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COMPARATIVE LIFE CYCLE ASSESSMENT OF LIGHTWEIGHT AGGREGATES MADE FROM WASTE—APPLYING THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Abstract: The application of Life Cycle Assessment in the construction sector can be a very useful tool to reduce the environmental impact generated by the sector. In order to quantify the improvement in environmental terms with the use of artificial lightweight aggregates (LWA) manufactured with waste, in this work, we conducted a comparative evaluation of the life cycle of LWAs for a total of five different scenarios: LWAs obtained in a traditional way, i.e., using exclusively clay in their manufacture (Spanish blond clay, Portuguese red clay and Portuguese blond clay), and LWAs manufactured with four different wastes, with a partial substitution of 2.5% for each of the clays per waste (almond and hazelnut shells, sludge from the purification of paper money, cork dust and coffee grounds). The functional unit was set as the production of 1 kilo of lightweight aggregates and the CML 2000 methodology and the SimaPro software were used. The results obtained in this research allow us to conclude that the addition of organic wastes showed a slightly higher environmental performance than the conventional system, the ALAs manufactured with almond and hazelnut shells being the most environmentally friendly option, with reductions of more than 30% in some cases, followed by the LWAs manufactured with coffee grounds. On the other hand, the addition of paper sewage sludge and cork dust represents minimal environmental optimization.
Keywords: life cycle assessment; industrial waste; circular economy; lightweight aggregate; waste recycling