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Managing Pollution

Economic Valuation and Environmental Toxicology

Edited by Clive L. Spash and Sandra McNally

Economists are concerned by a wide range of environmental impacts from pollutants, as they affect human welfare and not just human health. This insightful book demonstrates how economic analysis can contribute to decision making in environmental policy and discusses the theoretical limitations of economic valuation.
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Chapter 8: Combining life cycle assessment and multicriteria evaluation: comparing waste management options in Spain

Giuseppe Munda and Marta Romo


Giuseppe Munda and Marta Romo INTRODUCTION Life Cycle Assessment: Main Characteristics and Problems There are six stages to conducting a life cycle assessment (LCA): inventory, classification, characterization, normalization, valuation and interpretation. Throughout the consecutive stages the information that is presented is wideranging in nature, meaning and usefulness. The inventory stage presents a list of hundreds of consumption and emission measurements of a great number of substances (also termed environmental interventions). Due to the size of this inventory the data are difficult to interpret, and thus of a little direct use. The first phase of impact evaluation occurs under the classification stage. Consumption and emissions are ordered and organized so that the impact categories affected by the system under study are known. However, at this stage the extent to which each category has been affected and the categories that are relevant are unknown. In the next phase, the characterization stage, the most polluting processes of the system are identified. That is the toxic contribution is estimated from studying the systems potential impacts or ‘environmental threats’ (Finvenden 1996). One approach under development tries to relate the environmental interactions directly to ‘environmental damages’ such as death rates, disease, resources consumption and habitat destruction (de Haes and Jolliet 1998). The resulting characterized profile is still difficult to compare with other systems, since such a profile is multidimensional in nature. Next is the optional normalization stage, which is also called ‘technical relevancy analysis’ by the International Standards Organization (ISO). Here the specific contribution from the...

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