The legislative framework in force in Europe entails restrictive effluent standards for sensitive areas, and quite severe restrictions on the properties of residual sewage sludge, both for landfill disposal and for agricultural use. Several technologies and management strategies have been proposed and applied in wastewater treatment plants to minimise sludge production and contamination. However, their techno-economic and environmental performance has to be carefully evaluated. The ROUTES project, funded within the EU Seventh Framework programme, aims to find new routes for wastewater treatment and sludge management and thereby guide EU members in their future choices. Within this project, the authors have developed and applied a procedure for techno-economic-environmental assessment of new wastewater and sludge processing lines in comparison to reference plants. The reference plants are model conventional plants that experience different types of problems and the new plants are modified plants in which different innovative technologies have been added to solve these problems. The procedure involves a rating of selected technical issues, estimates of operating costs and an assessment of environmental impacts from a life cycle perspective. This paper reports on the procedure and shows examples of results.

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