Life cycle sustainability assessment framework for water sector resource recovery solutions: Strengths and weaknesses

Anurag Bhambhani*, Jan Peter van der Hoek, Zoran Kapelan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Resource recovery solutions are an essential part of a sustainable water sector. Sustainability of these solutions needs to be analysed to assess, compare and optimize them. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) is the most commonly used framework for sustainability assessment. This review paper discusses three critical characteristics of water sector resource recovery solutions: (i) their potential to actively benefit natural processes through reciprocal services, (ii) their dependence upon natural resources and processes, and (iii) their goal to avoid transgression of environmental thresholds. We analyse these three characteristics in the context of the following features of LCSA: (i) it being a damage assessment-based framework, (ii) its treatment of economic and natural capital as substitutable and (iii) the absence of environmental thresholds and past emissions in its environmental assessment methodology. We use a real-life resource recovery case study from the Netherlands to evaluate and demonstrate the mentioned features of the existing LCSA framework. Our review indicates that, LCSA can be modified for application to resource recovery solutions if it includes reciprocity towards nature as an essential component, limits compensations between economic welfare and environmental damage, and incorporates environmental thresholds and past emissions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106151
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Circular economy
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Literature review
  • Resource recovery
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Water management

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