Electricity generation and GHG emission reduction potentials through different municipal solid waste management technologies: A comparative review

Mohammad Ali Rajaeifar*, Hossein Ghanavati, Behrouz B. Dashti, Reinout Heijungs, Mortaza Aghbashlo, Meisam Tabatabaei

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


    The increasing trend in the consumption of various materials has also led to a huge increase in the final waste streams especially in the form of municipal solid waste (MSW) and the consequent environmental pollutions in particular greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These have made MSW management a significant environmental issue for governments and policy-makers. To address these challenges, developed countries have implemented sustainable material management (SMM) strategies which have been comprehensively reviewed herein. Moreover, waste generation statistics reported for most of the developed and developing countries as well as the existing gaps in MSW management among these countries have been fully discussed. The present paper was also aimed at comprehensively assessing electricity generation potentials from MSW using an integrated solid waste management system (including three different technologies of anaerobic digestion (AD), incineration, and pyrolysis-gasification) while the consequent GHG emission reduction potentials as a result of their implementation were also explored. To facilitate the understanding of the potential impacts of these treatment strategies, Iran's data were used as a case study. More specifically, the theoretical and technical potentials of electricity generation were calculated and the GHG emission reduction potentials were estimated using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach. Overall, it was found that 5005.4–5545.8 GW h of electricity could be generated from MSW in Iran annually which could lead to approximately 3561–4844 thousand tons of avoided CO2eq. Such GHG reductions would be translated into approximately 0.5% of Iran's annual GHG emissions and would be considered a promising achievement given Iran's international GHGs reduction commitment, i.e., 4% reduction of anthropogenic GHGs emissions by 2030 below the business as usual scenario. Such findings could also be modeled for the other developing countries around the world where efficient MSW management is yet to be implemented.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)414-439
    Number of pages26
    JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


    • Electricity production
    • Global warming contribution
    • Life cycle assessment
    • Municipal solid wastes
    • Waste treatment technologies


    Dive into the research topics of 'Electricity generation and GHG emission reduction potentials through different municipal solid waste management technologies: A comparative review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this