Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA) of landfills - a systemic approach: theoretical considerations

Daniel J. Lang, Roland W. Scholz, Claudia R. Binder, Arnim Wiek, Beat Stäubli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Implementing sustainable development (SD) requires operationalizing this rather vague guiding principle in a socio-technological context. This paper refers to a notion of SD that stresses approaching SD from a systemic perspective. We first present the Function-Structure-Context Framework to appraise if and how systemic characteristics are considered in assessments. The latter framework includes a functional, structural, and contextual dimension, as well as the interdependencies of these dimensions. We then analyze four currently applied landfill assessment methods with respect to this framework: i.e., MCEA (Modified Cost Effectiveness Analysis), LCA (Life Cycle Assessment), RA (Risk Assessment), and TVA (Swiss Technical Ordinance Waste). With respect to the analyzed methods, we can reveal that each of them focuses on specific systemic dimensions in its assessment step, whereas none refers to the whole range of dimensions and interdependencies of the framework presented. We then propose the so-called Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA) as an alternative comprehensive SD assessment approach, which has the potential to integrate the results of the other methods for achieving a systemic SD assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1628-1638
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment (RA)
  • Function-Structure-Context Framework
  • Landfill management
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • Method comparison
  • Modified Cost Effectiveness Analysis (MCEA)
  • Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA)
  • Sustainable development (SD)
  • Systemic perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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