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Waste Manag Res. 2011 Jan;29(1):69-76. doi: 10.1177/0734242X10389510. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Gas emissions from biodegradable waste in United Kingdom landfills.

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Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, UK.


The aim of this research was to predict the effect that the biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) diversion targets in the European Union landfill directive (99/31/EC) would have on landfill gas emissions. This is important for continued mitigation of these emissions. Work was undertaken in three stages using the GasSim model (v1.03) developed by the Environment Agency (England and Wales). The first stage considered the contribution to gas emissions made by each biodegradable component of the waste stream. The second stage considered how gas emissions from a landfill accepting biodegradable wastes with reduced biodegradable content would be affected. The third stage looked at the contribution to gas emissions from real samples of biologically pretreated BMW. For the first two stages, data on the waste components were available in the model. For the third stage samples were obtained from four different biological treatment facilities and the required parameters determined experimentally. The results of stage 1 indicated that in the first 15 years of the landfill the putrescible fraction makes the most significant contribution, after which paper/card becomes the most significant. The second stage found that biodegradability must be reduced by at least 60% to achieve a reduction in overall methane generation. The third stage found that emissions from samples of biologically pretreated BMW would result in a significant reduction in gas emissions over untreated waste, particularly in the early stage of the landfill lifetime; however, low level emissions would continue to occur for the long term.

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