Comparative life cycle assessment of municipal wastewater treatment systems: lagoon and activated sludge

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of Environmental Sciences and engineering, Ardabil Branch, Islamic Azad University, Ardabil, Iran



Providing health conditions, prevention of water pollution and wastewater reuse are needed to select the best wastewater treatment process before designing and implementing, according to regional climatic conditions. the aim of the present study was to evaluate the lagoon and activated sludge wastewater treatment systems using life cycle assessment and ISO14040 standards within four steps. Required data in the study systems were matter and energy inputs, including NH3-N, TP, TN, CL, O2 and electricity, as well as pollutant outputs involving BOD5, COD, SS, NH3-N, TP, TN, CL, CO2, and CH4. The data were obtained from treatment systems of Ardabil (aerated lagoon) and Tabriz (activated sludge), Iran. Some of the data were obtained by calculation and the eco-invent database was used to complete the information required. Data were analyzed by Simapro 8.0.1 software. The results of the study demonstrated that the lagoon system in comparison with the other systems had 100% negative impacts in every effect classes, while the activated sludge system on global warming (6.39%) and photochemical oxidation (7.14%) had the least impact. Therefore, the lagoon system was recognized as the environmentally-harmful system, while the activated sludge as the best wastewater treatment system.


Arceivala SJ 2004, Wastewater treatment for pollution control. Tata MacGraw–Hill, 2th ed., 362p.

Bahmanpour, H, Habashi, R, Hosseini SM, 2017, Investigating the Efficiency of Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA) in Wastewater Treatment of Dairy Industry, Anthropogenic Pollution Journal, 1 (1): 9-17.

Dixon, A, Simon, M & Burkitt, T 2003, Assessing the environmental impact of two options for small-scale wastewater treatment: comparing a reedbed and an aerated biological filter using a life cycle approach. Ecological Engineering, 20: 297-30.

Dabaghian, MR, Hashemi, H, Ebadi, T, 2009, Technical economic and environmental assessment of wastewater treatment systems in the electroplating industries using AHP. Environmental Science Technology,  11: 107-115.

Dekamin, M, Veisi, H, Liaghati, H, Khoshbakht, K, Beheshti, M, Heydarzadeh, M, 2012, Assessing the environmental impacts of fish production systems (integrated cold-water fish) in Iran, using Life Cycle Assessment. Department of Agro-ecology, Institute of Environmental Sciences, Martyr Behest University, 238p.

Emmerson, RHC, Morse, GK, Lester, JN & Edge, DR 1995, The Life-Cycle Analysis of Small-Scale Sewage Treatment Processes. Journal of Chartered Institution of Water & Environmental Management, 9: 317-325.

Foley, J, de Haas, D, Hartley, K, Lant, P 2009, Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems, water research. Journal of Waters, 1: 11-21.

Gallego, A, Hospido, A, Moreira, MT & Feijoo, G 2008, Environmental performance of wastewater treatment plants for small populations. Resources Conservation and Recycling, 52: 931-940.

Gaterell, MR, Griffin, P & Lester, JN 2005, Evaluation of environmental burdens associated with sewage treatment processes using life cycle assessment techniques. Environmental Technology, 26: 231-249.

Godin, D, Bouchard, C, Vanrolleghem, PA, 2011, LCA of wastewater treatment systems: introducing a net environmental benefit approach. Département de génie civil ET de génie des eaux, Université Laval, 1065 Avenue de la médecine, watermatex, Conference Proceeding, 18-25.

Houillon, G & Jolliet, O 2005, Life cycle assessment of processes for the treatment of wastewater urban sludge: energy and global warming analysis. Journal of Cleaner Production, 13: 287-299.

Hospido, A, Teresa Moreira, M, Fernandez-Couto, M & Feijoo, G 2004, Environmental performance of a municipal wastewater treatment plant. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 9: 261-271.

Iran Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Standard ISO 14040, 2012, Environmental management – Life cycle assessment - Principles and framework, 1st Ed., 79p.

ISO, ISO 2006, 14044: Environmental management—life cycle assessment—requirements and guidelines. International Organization for Standardization, 112p.

Lassaux, S, Renzoni, R & Germain, A 2007, Life Cycle Assessment of Water from the Pumping Station to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 12: 118-126.

Machado, AP, Urbano, L, Brito, AG, Janknecht, P, Salas, JJ & Nogueira, R 2007, Life cycle assessment of wastewater treatment options for small and decentralized communities. Water Science and Technology, 56: 15-22.

Tchobanoglous, G, Louis Burton F, David Stense H, Metcalf & Eddy, Inc., Burton F, 2003, Wastewater engineering: treatment and reuse .4th ed., McGrow Hill, 1819p.

Ness, B, Urbel-Piirsalu, E, Anderberg, S, Olsson, L 2007, Categorizing tools for sustainability assessment. Ecological Economics, 60: 498-508.

Pasqualino, JC, Meneses, M, Abella, M & Castells, F 2009, LCA as a decision support tool for the environmental improvement of the operation of a municipal wastewater treatment plant. Environmental Science & Technology, 43: 3300-3307.

Pelletier, N, Tyedmers, P 2010, Life cycle assessment of frozen tilapia fillets from Indonesian lake-based and pond-based intensive aquaculture systems. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 14: 467-481.

Racoviceanu, AI, Karney, BW, ASCE, M, Kennedy, CA, Colombo, AF, 2007, Life-cycle energy use and greenhouse gas emissions inventory for water treatment systems. DOI: 10.1061/ASCE1076-0342, 2007, 13:4 261.

Reynolds,TD, Richards, PA, 1996, Unit operations and process in environmental engineering., 2nd ed. Congress Proceeding, 798.

Saiedi, M, Abessi, A, Sarpak, M, 2009, Hazardous waste landfill sitting using GIS and prioritize sites using AHP, Environmental Science Technology, 11: 231-241.

Vidal, N, Poch, M, Marti, E & Rodriguez-Roda, I 2002, Evaluation of the environmental implications to include structural changes in a wastewater treatment plant. Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology, 77:  1206-1211.