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Objective 4

Critical evaluation of results and validation

This OO-04 is likely the most important element of the entire project from the point of view of the technical and scientific reliability, and the actual usability of the obtained results.

The OO-04 has been specifically designed to provide a tool to unify the methodology and management of the whole project activity, in order to ensure reliability, relevance, and representativeness of the collected data, not only for the purposes for which they were collected, but because they can be compared and elaborated in order to make a final judgment, which otherwise would be impossible due the complexity and heterogeneity of the aspects covered by the project. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, and the applications derived from it such as the Life Cycle Costing (LCC), is the tool able to deal with this issue of methodological unification, otherwise quite impossible.

In this project the LCA and LCC methodologies will be used in an integrated and site-specific way to compare different scenarios for managing the waste object of the project. The compared options will be the current situation of management of these wastes, and the scenario set up on the basis of the innovative elements introduced by the results of the R&D activities.

1 Basic Setup

The Life Cycle Inventory analysis (LCI) will involve all the specialists who will work as part of this project for identifying the "actions or phases" of the project activities that will be developed and will produce environmental loads. The inventory analysis involves data collection for all the activities in the studied system: raw materials (including energy carriers), products, and solid waste and emissions. This step includes calculation of the amount of resource use and pollutant emission of the system in relation to the functional unit (i.e. the reference flow to which all other modelled flows of the system are related).

This setting will be used to perform the LCA and LCC analysis of the current management scenario of the wastes with the aim to describe in detail the present situation, but also to identify the significant variables of different processes/systems that will allow, if necessary, to make preliminary assessments useful for better definition of the operative parameters.

2 Critical analysis of the procedure

The collected information will be analyzed in order to evaluate the opportunity/need to identify new requirements or limitations in the data that require a modification of the data collection procedures in order to meet yet the objectives of the study. A crucial step of this phase consists of the check of the reliability of the data: uncertainties and assumptions set, the completeness of data for specific goals and targets.

Data sources and the calculation procedure will be stated, with reference information, in order to allow the check of their validity.

The cut-off criteria, the assumptions and limitations (e.g. problems encountered in the analysis such as failure to collect certain data) of the study will be stated.

3 Final evaluations

In the final phase of the project, after the data collection of the sections of the planned activities, the LCA and LCC analysis will be performed, in order to assess the environmental effects of the activities tested with the project.

By the LCA and LCC analysis and a detailed assessment of technologies and production phases studied, an integrated assessment of the sustainability of ALL the innovations developed in this project will be performed.

A very important component of this concluding part concerns the fact that a significant part of the research is intended to assess the sustainability of certain improvements using the methodology of the "pilot-scale" and that can therefore extend on a larger scale (full scale), both in the wastewater treatment plant at which the experimentation was performed, and in other systems, with different plant layout and different management scenario of wastes.

Ultimately, the information obtained from the study by the two integrated methodology will suggest possible strategies and solutions to improve the environmental performance of the waste object of interest in this project, through the choice of technological options characterized by a lower consumption of energy and materials, and therefore will constitute a "model" for other types of company, not only in the tanning district.

Finally, the LCC results will provide the input for the setting up and the development of "dynamic" business plans, linked not only to the variables of a specific plant layout/process, but also to the values ​​that certain parameters can assume in different configurations. 

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