Plasma gasification is a thermal treatment successfully applied to waste streams, especially for solid residues. It sets an upgrade to more common waste-to-energy (WtE) techniques as incineration or gasification, granting lower levels of pollutant emissions, less landfilled materials and higher conversion efficiencies and producer gas quality. A life cycle assessment (LCA) of plasma gasification for one ton of a defined stream of solid waste is presented and compared to the hypothetical outcomes of incineration, highlighting the need to implement such sustainable techniques rather than more polluting ones. CML 2001 methodology was applied, enabling the evaluation of eleven impact categories, all of them depicting avoided burdens for the environment. Enhanced efficiency and cleanliness were seen due to the plasma step and to the replacement of part of the electrical grid mix by the produced electricity. Plasma gasification presented an overall better performance than incineration, portraying savings in energy and material resources as well as lower emissions to freshwater. Additionally, lower amounts of air contaminants were seen as well as almost triple of the produced electricity.
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