The material that is separated from wastewater in wastewater treatment plants has to be transferred from the water phase to the atmosphere, lithosphere, and/or biosphere (and also the technosphere). After the initial discharges into the different environmental media (and the technosphere), there are further 'inter-sphere' leakages or redirections. However, these happen over protracted periods of time and have not been accounted for in this paper. The paper presents a case study on the wastewater treatment plants in the Netherlands, examines how the degree of separation of COD (BOD), nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals from the wastewater have increased over time, and studies the changes in proportions separated out to the atmosphere and lithosphere. The hydrosphere has benefited from a decline in the degree of eutrophication and marine/fresh water toxicity, owing to the favourable combination of higher degrees of separation, over time, and source control, especially in the industrial sector. Global warming is a major concern owing to the increasing conversion of COD to carbon dioxide (and methane). Heavy metal and nitrogen emissions have been curbed thanks to source reduction within industries. Technologies have, of course, enabled some mitigation of the problems associated with atmospheric (global warming and toxicity) and lithospheric (toxicity) pollution, though these are beyond the scope of this paper, which assumes a hypothetical worst-case scenario in this regard for the study period 1993-2005.
In Part I, the wastewater treatment sector in the Netherlands was analyzed to determine how the degree of separation of COD (BOD), nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals from the wastewater increased over time, and how the proportions of these substances, separated out from the wastewater into the lithosphere and atmosphere, changed over time. This paper applies the same methodology, adopted in the first part, to Norway. Needless to say, the hydrosphere has benefited from a decline in eutrophication and marine/fresh water toxicity, owing to the favourable combination of higher degrees of separation over time and source control, especially in the industrial sector. However, this has been at the expense of damage to the atmosphere (global warming). Technologies have, of course, enabled some mitigation of the problems that have shifted to the atmosphere and lithosphere, though these are beyond the scope of this paper, which assumes a hypothetical worst-case scenario in this regard. Whereas, in Part I, the time period 1993-2005 was considered, this paper is handicapped by the lack of availability of data and is restricted to a much narrower time period: 2002-2006.
During the last decade, systems analysis has become a more frequently used tool in municipal waste management. This paper investigates how one such analysis, carried out in a Swedish county, was perceived by local municipal officers and politicians as support in the decision-making process. A questionnaire was sent to municipal officers and politicians in local government committees and municipal councils. The respondents considered the most important aspects in evaluating scenarios to be: possibilities for municipal co-operation to minimize cost and negative environmental influence; sound working conditions for refuse disposal personnel; low emissions of greenhouse gases; keeping household economy in mind; and using technologies that are known and reliable. Aspects of relatively low importance were the number of locally generated job opportunities, and minimizing work efforts for the households. The study also showed differences between male and female respondents and between politicians and municipal officers, on how scenarios were valued and on which aspects of the systems analysis were of greatest importance for this valuation. Respondents, on average, were satisfied with the systems analysis, and its usefulness as a decision-support tool. However, more work should be carried out to explain and present the results of the systems analysis to further improve its usefulness.