An integrated three-way decision methodology for sustainability of wastewater circularity in thermal power plants

Lanndon Anhao Ocampo*, Jenebyb Cabigas, Dylan Jones, Ashraf Labib

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The presence of multiple criteria for evaluating wastewater reuse applications indicates the potential usage of Multi-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) methods for this purpose. However, there is currently a scarcity of studies in the domain literature that utilize MCDM approaches in this application topic. This paper therefore advances the domain literature in two distinctive ways. Firstly, it analyzes and advances the reuse agenda of wastewater from thermal power plants, recognized as large-scale users of water, thus promoting greater water circularity. Secondly, it provides a methodological advance by integrating the notion of Three-Way Decision (3WD) into the computational structure of MCDM methods by introducing a middle reference point. Such an initiative results in a novel 3WD extension of the Measurement of Alternatives and Ranking according to COmpromise Solution (MARCOS) method. Additionally, this work provides a proof that the MARCOS method utilizes a compromise solution in identifying priority alternatives, along with the integration of a Weighted Aggregated Sum Product ASsessment (WASPAS) metric. An initial hypothetical example illustrates how the proposed approach augments the canonical MARCOS method, particularly in promoting the “thinking in threes” as a more natural information processing approach and the high degree of distinguishability of priorities between decision alternatives. An actual case study in a thermal power plant then demonstrates the contributions of this work. With the best-worst method used to determine the priorities of the decision attributes, the findings reveal that wastewater reuse applications achieving reduced costs for needed infrastructures, operational simplicity, technological compatibility, consumer safety and household savings are preferred by stakeholders. The 3WD-MARCOS approach identifies industrial and commercial use, municipal use, environmental restoration, and household use as the high-priority alternatives, with cooking and drinking as least preferred. These insights guide stakeholders in their design of initiatives that allocate resources for greater wastewater reuse. A comparative analysis yields high consistency of these findings with similar MCDM methods. In addition, the efficacy of the novel 3WD-MARCOS method highlights its potential in handling MCDM problems, including those promoting water circularity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11111
Number of pages17
JournalApplied Soft Computing
Early online date9 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • water circularity
  • wastewater
  • water reuse
  • marcos
  • three-way decision

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