MSW Management

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Would you consider the phrase “mechanical biological treatment” as somewhat of an oxymoron? Does it rank up there in the big leagues with the likes of “jumbo shrimp” and “deafening silence” and “Hell’s Angels” and “found missing?”

Mechanical biological treatment (MBT) facilities, as you know, combine mechanical waste sorting with a biological treatment such as anaerobic digestion or composting in order to recover recyclable materials.

MBT systems have been implemented in Europe over the last 25 years to meet the requirements of the 1999 European Union Landfill Directive, which requires waste to be treated so that it is biologically stable before being disposed of in landfills.

Managing municipal solid waste is more than landfilling: publicity, education, engineering, long-term planning, and landfill gas waste-to-energy are specialties needed in today’s complex environment. We’ve created a handy infographic featuring 6 tips to improve landfill management and achieve excellence in operations. 6 Tips for Excellence in Landfill Operations. Download it now!  

A new report issued by SWANA’s Applied Research Foundation (ARF) “centers around” information on the implementation and operation of MBT facilities in Europe. So that we wouldn’t have to be “alone together” the report responds to the growing interest in creating zero waste systems incorporating some sort of MBT system. The first MBT facility in the eastern United States will be opening in West Virginia later this year.

Jeremy O’Brien, P.E., is the director of applied research. He says, “This report should serve as a valuable resource to the growing number of communities that are considering or implementing additional mixed waste processing systems in North America. These communities can benefit by from the experiences and lessons learned in Europe over the last 25 or so years with MBT facilities.”

Hopefully, the number of communities isn’t “astronomically small.”

O’Brien adds that, “Important lessons include the fact that the compost produced from MBT systems is generally of poor quality and not usable for agricultural applications. Also, the diversion rates have been on the order of 20% without energy recovery.”

The report is sort of an “open secret”—Mechanical Biological Treatment of Residual Waste – Lessons from Europe is currently only available to SWANA ARF subscribers.

Also if you were able to spot all of the oxymorons in this blog, consider it a “common phenomenon.”

Now here’s something a little extra included in your free subscription, a vocabulistic paradox…can the word “heterological” truly exist? MSW_bug_web

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  1. There is another area for the term mechanical biological treatment. It is the wastewater treatment field where mechanical refers to the use of aerators (e.g., activated sludge) or revolving arms (trickling filters) in secondary wastewater treatment plants. “Non-mechanical” plants are oxidation ponds typically used to treat wastewaters from smaller communities. Both types are called by EPA publically owned treatment works (POTW). Carl

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