Life cycle assessment (LCA) of food waste treatment in Hong Kong : On-site fermentation methodology

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-351
Journal / PublicationJournal of Environmental Management
Online published4 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


“Smart Food Waste Recycling Bin” (S-FRB) systems have recently been developed to facilitate the transformation of food waste into an end-product suitable for use as an energy resource following circular economy principles. This decentralized waste decomposition system utilizes fermentative microorganisms for the treatment of organic food waste and has emerged as a possible solution for coping with both landfill capacity and greenhouse gas emissions issues. This paper utilizes Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to determine the environmental impacts associated with this S-FRB technology and identify environmental hotspots to reduce these impacts. In this paper, we have conducted an on-site pilot-scale study for 2 months at a canteen located at the City University of Hong Kong, which resulted in a 90% reduction in the mass of food waste treated in the S-FRB system. Based on this pilot-scale study hypothetical scenarios were developed to determine potential environmental impacts potential scaled-up deployments of the S-FRB instrument based on varied assumptions. Examination of the LCAs of these different scenarios demonstrated the potential for further reduction in CO 2 equivalent emissions during food waste treatment. Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and Energy Return on Investment (EROI) were also investigated to understand the energy balance energy of the S-FRB technology. Finally, using current waste treatment methods in Hong Kong as a benchmark, the environmental impacts of the S-FRB are compared with the conventional food waste treatment approaches such as landfilling and organic waste treatment facilities (OWTF).

Research Area(s)

  • Circular economy, Decentralized treatment, Food waste disposal, Reusable energy resource, Waste circulation