Identifying materials for treatment

Identifying whether a by-product/waste is a material for treatment is important since it determines whether the by-product/waste can directly substitute another product or whether it should instead be linked to a treatment market leading to one or more treatment activities.

A “material for treatment” is defined as a by-product/waste that no other activity in the same geographical area has as its positive determining product, and which therefore cannot directly substitute a determining product as an input to an activity. This definition allows for an unambiguous identification of whether a by-product/waste is a material for treatment or not. Note that it is not the economic value that determines whether a material is a material for treatment, but only its need for treatment.

The markets for materials for treatment (treatment markets, for short) have the same function as other markets, but they operate on negative reference products, i.e. on the services of treating or disposing of the material for treatment. They are not driven by the demand for the material, but by its supply, or rather by the need for treatment of this supply. The flow of material is opposite to the flow of the service. The determining products of the treatment activities and the treatment markets can therefore also be expressed in terms of negative amounts of the materials for treatment, i.e. the service of removing the specific amounts of material. Any transforming activity can be a treatment activity, if one of its inputs is a material for treatment, but in general, treatment activities are activities dedicated to treatment, i.e. having treatment as their original main purpose.

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How to cite this: 
Consequential-LCA (2015). Identifying materials for treatment. Last updated: 2015-10-27. www.consequential-lca.org.