Assessment of wastewater treatment technologies: life cycle approach



Shyam R. Asolekar, Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai 400 076, India. Email:


Four municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in India based on different technologies are compared by conducting Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) using field data. CML 2 baseline 2000 methodology is adopted in which eight impact categories are considered. SBRs ranked highest in energy consumption and global warming potential (GWP) but also produced the best effluent with respect to organics and nutrients. Constructed wetlands have negligible energy consumption and negative GWP because of carbon sequestration in the macrophytes. Emissions associated with electricity production required to operate the WWTPs, emissions to water from treated effluent and heavy metal emissions from waste sludge applied to land are identified as main contributors for overall environmental impacts of WWTPs. This comparison of technologies suggests that results from LCA can be used as indicators in a multicriteria decision-making framework along with other sustainability indicators.