A bi-level environmental impact assessment framework for comparing construction and demolition waste management strategies

Waste Manag. 2018 Jul;77:401-412. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2018.04.024. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


Several pioneering life cycle assessment (LCA) studies have been conducted in the past to assess the environmental impact of specific methods for managing mineral construction and demolition waste (MCDW), such as recycling the waste for use in concrete. Those studies focus on comparing the use of recycled MCDW and that of virgin components to produce materials or systems that serve specified functions. Often, the approaches adopted by the studies do not account for the potential environmental consequence of avoiding the existing or alternative waste management practices. The present work focuses on how product systems need to be defined in recycling LCA studies and what processes need to be within the system boundaries. A bi-level LCA framework is presented for modelling alternative waste management approaches in which the impacts are measured and compared at two scales of strategy and decision-making. Different functional units are defined for each level, all of which correspond to the same flow of MCDW in a cascade of product systems. For the sole purpose of demonstrating how the framework is implemented an illustrative example is presented, based on real data and a number of simplifying assumptions, which compares the impacts of a number of potential MCDW management strategies in New York City.

Keywords: Concrete; Construction and demolition waste; LCA; Landfill; Recycled aggregate; Waste management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Construction Materials*
  • New York City
  • Recycling*
  • Refuse Disposal
  • Waste Management*