Evaluating the environmental and economic performance of biological and advanced biological wastewater treatment plants by life cycle assessment and life cycle costing

Çankaya S., Pekey B.

ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT, vol.196, no.373, pp.0-22, 2024 (SCI-Expanded)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 196 Issue: 373
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED)
  • Page Numbers: pp.0-22
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


The primary objective of this study is to assess and establish benchmarks for environmental and economic sustainability of biological and advanced biological wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) with different treatment technologies and characteristics. Furthermore, the study aims to determine the beneficial role of WWTPs to reduction of eutrophication potential. Environmental and economic sustainability of ten municipal WWTPs was assessed using life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC). In the first section of the study, LCA was performed to determine the environmental performance of the WWTPs. Furthermore, net environmental benefit (NEB) approach was implemented to reveal the beneficial role of WWTPs to eutrophication potential. In the subsequent section, LCA-based LCC was conducted by integrating the results of LCA. The most significant environmental impact was determined as marine aquatic ecotoxicity, which is highly affected from the generation and transmission of electricity consumed in the WWTPs. Wastewater recovery and co-incineration of sewage sludge in cement kiln ensure significant environmental savings on ozone layer depletion, human toxicity, acidification, photochemical oxidation, and abiotic depletion (fossil fuel) potential. Considering NEB approach, the highest NEB values were found for the WWTPs with the higher organic load and nutrient concentration in the influent. The results of LCC in WWTPs varied between 0.21 and 0.53 €/m3. External (environmental) costs were evaluated higher than internal (operational) costs for all selected WWTPs. While eutrophication was the highest among environmental costs, electricity cost was the highest among operational costs for almost all WWTPs.