The aim of this study was to compare the environmental performance and sustainability of different management options for livestock waste in Cyprus. The two most common practices in the country, i.e. the use of anaerobic lagoons and conventional biogas plants, were compared with the innovative scheme developed in the LiveWaste project (LIFE12 ENV/CY/000544), which aims not only to produce bioenergy, but also to treat the digestate for nutrient recovery and water reuse. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology was combined with the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to compare the performance of these alternatives. Four relevant indicators were selected for each dimension of sustainability (environmental, social and economic). The results of the evaluations showed that anaerobic lagoons are not an appropriate option for the sustainable management of livestock waste due to environmental (e.g. climate change, acidification and eutrophication) and social impacts (e.g. noise exposure, visual impact and risk perception for human health). The most important strengths and weaknesses of anaerobic treatment with and without digestate treatment were identified. Compared to conventional anaerobic digestion where digestate is directly applied as an organic fertiliser, the technology proposed in the project entails higher technological complexity due to nitrogen removal and phosphorus recovery. The rise in chemical and electricity requirements increased the impacts on some indicators, such as climate change and operational cost (emissions of greenhouse gases and operation costs were around 50% higher), while reduced impacts in others due to proper nutrient management, as acidification and eutrophication impacts (which were 10 and almost two times lower, respectively). For the specific Cypriot conditions, where the overapplication of nutrients leads to pollution of water bodies, the innovative treatment scheme with higher technological development presents an interesting approach. Nevertheless, the treatment of the digestate should be analysed taking into account the specific characteristics of each scenario.

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