Collation of Existing Information on the Composting of Mechanically Separated Fractions of Municipal Solid Waste

Over recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in composting of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). A large amount of source segregated wastes are now composted across Europe, and the compost is used routinely by many users from domestic users to commercial users.

Source segregation leaves behind residual organic materials. Composting combined with mechanical separation processes may provide a means of recovering lower grade composts and other recyclates both from the residual wastes, and from general waste collections, where for economic, social or other reasons composting of source segregated materials is not carried out. This combination of mechanical and biological treatments has come to be known as MBT, and this technique is seeing an increasing number of applications across Europe.

However, while "MBT" is "new", mixed waste composting is not, and a large amount of information has been collected about the performance of composting, sampling and separation systems for mixed waste composting. It appears that not all of this information is being exploited by MBT developers, who may therefore be at risk of repeating research that has already been done, or perhaps even repeating mistakes from the past, or not carrying out adequate sampling and analysis.

SITA Environmental Trust have supported a project, carried out by r3 environmental technology limited and AEA Technology PLC, to collate the large body of existing, and apparently forgotten, information about composting mechanically separated fractions of MSW including sampling and sample preparation issues; and then to present this information in a form that is easily accessible to the UK waste management industry, environmental consultants and researchers.

This web site contains the results of this project.  Some 1,600 references are listed in a bibliography.  A review of key issues for composting mechanically segregated fractions of MSW has also been produced, referring to over 640 of these references.  This review can be viewed interactively through this web site, using the left hand contents menu.  Each section is accompanied by the references used in the review, and a full listing of related references in the bibliography.  The bibliography can also be searched directly using the simple search tool above.  The complete review can be downloaded as a PDF (1,625 kB).  Click here to download full review.