Greenhouse gases (GHG) can be produced at each stage of a product's life cycle: from raw material extraction, transport, manufacturing, use and final treatment or disposal of materials. By relating this life cycle to the waste hierarchy, we can see how each level of the hierarchy impacts on climate change. Waste management generates carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), which are both GHG.

The impact of solid waste management (SWM) on the global warming equivalence of European GHG emissions comes mostly from CH4 released as biodegradable wastes decay under the airless (anaerobic) conditions in landfills. According to the EC (Waste management options and climate change, 2001), about a third of anthropogenic emissions of CH4 in the EU can be attributed to this source. In Greece, ~80% of the waste goes to landfills, thus creating a major problem in methane emissions management and control.

Combating climate change is a top priority of the EU policy. In the EU region, municipal waste management activities alone could potentially account for 18% of the 2012 Kyoto GHG reduction target set for the original 15 EU Member States (ISWA White Paper: Waste and climate change, 2009).

The waste sector offers proven, practical and cost effective technologies which can contribute to GHG mitigation. When adapted and deployed according to local traditions and needs, they can help secure significant global GHG emissions savings. Solutions might include waste prevention, recycling and reuse, biological treatment with land use of products, energy recovery and engineered landfilling.

The WASTE-C-CONTROL project aims to reduce GHG emissions through the development of a software tool that will:

provide "decision support" for the optimization of SWM, in a "waste management zone" level, in terms of GHG emissions and financial data, contain extensive information (data, libraries etc) for the available solid waste treatment options,
assist the user to "assemble" his own waste management model and to control its environmental performance according to emissions and costs,
monitor, control and report GHG emissions from waste management activities and calculate the GHG footprint of the various waste management technologies, and
facilitate the design of a GHG emissions abatement plan (Local Action Plan), through the optimization of the current waste management practices.

The project will examine various waste management options in relation to their GHG emissions. This will enable the identification of procedures and practical tools for the development of 3 Local Action Plans, which aim to reduce GHG emissions from waste management activities at local level (Region of Eastern Macedonia & Thrace, Region of Western Macedonia and Regional Union of Chania (Crete), in Greece). Each Plan will set specific quantitative goals for GHG emissions reductions; will specify the means to attain them, as well as the relevant investments that need to take place. Furthermore, it will contain an appropriate monitoring programme.

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