Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Discussion on Solutions to Waste Management in India and Elsewhere

Participants (In the order of appearance. As of 12/05/2012, 2 PM EST):
 Professor Nickolas Themelis  Dr. Ranveer Singh Mahwar  Renee Gratton  Ranjith Annepu  Asit Nema   , and Nuggehalli Vasuki (CEO (retired), DSWA).

Link to the original thread on WTERT's partner D-Waste's LinkedIn group.

The report "Observations from India's Crisis" will be published soon as a PDF, DOC on and also as a BLOG POST in this Blog

Direction: The discussion is quickly moving in the direction of discussing the best technologies for waste management in India.

Context: It started in a thread requesting help regarding a report on India's waste management crisis - by Mr. Annepu.

Initiation: The discussion was initiated by Dr. Themelis's support to the original query as a reply to a comment made by Dr. Mahwar.

Featured: Professor Nickolas Themelis's Comment On Waste Reduction:
There is no question that SOME of the waste generated in U.S. and Canada could be reduced. Both countries generate over 50% more tons per capita than Japan and other more advance nations in northern Europe. 
But these nations still incinerate about 0.3 tons per capita, rather than landfill it.
Analogy Worth a Special Mention: 
The situation with waste management is somewhat like that with public health: Good diet and exercise, vitamins, preventive medicine, all contribute to better health and less sickness. Despite all that, there will be some sick people who need to go to hospitals. It is obvious that advocating against hospitals or opposing new ones will not improve public health. 
It is the same situation with urban waste management: There all kinds of means for reduction, recycling, composting but ALL human experience has shown that at the end there remains a substantial fraction that has to go to either "incinerators with energy recovery or to sanitary landfills. Environmental organizations who oppose these two means on principle, in effect are perpetuating traditional landfilling. Regrettably, the Sierra Club is spending a lot of donated money doing just that.
Other Comments

On the use of word "Crisis" for the waste management situation in India

Dr. Mahwar's comment:
What do you mean by crises in waste management? Are there any crises of waste management in India or any where in the world in your knowledge?
Prof. Themelis's response (edited):
The use of word "crisis" is apt. For example, refer to the detailed report for just one place, Bangalore, in the New York Times. (India's Plague, Trash, Drowns Its Garden City During Strike)
Asit Nema's response (edited):
I could not agree more with you on the term 'Crisis'! Indeed we have a full blown crisis here (example Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram-Vilappilsala and many other cities) as over the last 12 - 15 years, all interventions attempted across the country have been driven by the desire to convert 'waste-to-wealth' and 'waste-to-energy' but ironically they have resulted in 'waste-of-wealth' and 'waste-of-energy'! 
Renee Gratton's comment:
I am not entirely surprised at the state of waste management in India, (however) your report had me gasping at the effects this brings. (report will be published soon on and this blog)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Advice to Thiruvananthapuram might not help alleviate the city's looming solid waste crisis

This post is a response to an article published by with the title "Thiruvananthapuram sinks in its own waste as rulers look for shortcuts" on October 16, 2012.

Public protests - The Hindu
This critique is not about the conceptual or factual validity of the article but it is to distinguish between the short-term and long-term priorities and solutions for the city. In the absence of such a distinction, various stakeholders with the same goal of solving the crisis and with correct models will end up debating ideals and fighting within each other, finally doing no good to the city.

While depicting the situation as: 
When the residents of Vilappilsaala said "no more garbage" to their neighbourhood, the corporation, which is used to an archaic collect-transport-dump routine, didn’t know what to do. They just stopped garbage collection and it started piling up everywhere. The city is putrid today. 
FirstPost suggests a 4-step approach (edited for brevity)
1. Ask the city residents to mandatorily separate waste at source. Once recyclables and organic matter are removed, only about 20 per cent needs to be dumped in a sanitary landfill. 
2. Once the source-segregation is made mandatory, the city corporation can collect both the recyclables door-to-door (women-run self help groups have been doing this). Engage scrap dealers to whom the materials can be sold.

3. The bio-degradable materials can be collected door-to-door and used in compost facilities at several locations in the city.

4. The remaining 20% of waste need to be disposed off in landfills.
Thiruvananthapuram - Deccan Chronicle
The 4-step advise can be followed if the City can get over the current crisis. For whatever reason, if it fails to do so, the crisis will continue like in Campania, Italy. In that case, Firstpost's advise will provide some relief but not real solutions. Therefore, it is irrelevant to the article's subject line. Let me explain how:
The subject line and the article speak about the imminent solid waste crisis in Thiruvananthapuram, but the solution suggested is not a process but a future state that should be achieved. To achieve such a state, the suggested components should evolve together with gradually increasing infrastructure, changing social habits and the city's institutional and financial abilities. Such a change cannot be brought in with sudden interventions in a short span of time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What a Waste: Time to Pick It Up

This is a guest post by Dan Hoornweg of the World Bank on the report written by him and Perinaz Bhada, Adviser of WTERT - India and EEC Research Associate.

Ask any city manager or mayor what their top priority is and you’re likely to get ‘solid waste’ as an answer. You would think in today’s age we would have solved the waste management challenge and moved on to the next slightly more glamorous municipal service. Not so; and more than ever cities now need to pick it up a notch on solid waste management.

Solid waste is still probably the world’s most pressing environmental challenge. In poorer countries, solid waste can use up to more than half of a city’s overall budget; around the world there are more solid waste workers than soldiers; and despite the more than $225 billion spent every year on solid waste, in many low income countries less than half the waste is collected in cities.

This week’s release of What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management highlights the pressing need for better waste management, especially in low-income country cities. Currently cities generate about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste per year. This is expected to increase to 2.2 billion tonnes by 2025. The impact is most severe in low-income country cities where management costs are expected to increase more than five-fold. And most low-income cities are already having trouble dealing with today’s waste management challenges, leave alone handling the expected increases.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Collection of Videos on Marine Debris

As most of us already know, 80% of Marine Debris comes from inland sources and 10% from beach picnics [4], both the result of or can be classified as improper waste management. Majority of marine debris is plastic, up to 75%. The rest of the debris is glass, paper and cardboard. [4]

It seems like our friends fighting to stop marine litter/debris seem to be responding very well on the grassroots level and are making good public campaigns. Climate Change and Marine Litter seem to be the most widely known issues arising out of improper waste management globally. Here is a short collection of videos made advocating against marine litter, shortest to the longest:

[1] Plastic Seduction

[2] Rise Above Plastics: Plastics Kill

[3] The Majestic Plastic Bag: A Mockumentary

[4] Marine Litter: Ocean Report

All these videos are posted on Global WTERT Council's Facebook page as we believe that's the stage we can perform before the public.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wood Recycling in US - Difference between USEPA and Columbia - Biocycle Figures

This is an edited version of an email exchange between Mr. Steve Bratkovich of Dovetail Partners Inc.Professor Nickolas Themelis of Global WTERT Council (GWC) and Nora Goldstein of BioCycle Magazine.

Subject: Differences in wood waste and municipal solid waste (MSW) numbers published by the US EPA as Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: Facts and Figures, and the State of Garbage, a bi-annual survey conducted by Columbia University and Biocycle Magazine.

Mr. Bratkovich: The differences you found in MSW generation and management between the EPA/Franklin studies and your study is quite interesting. Also, as someone (a professional forester) engaged in the literature review of this topic I've noticed most forestry-types tend to cite the EPA numbers;
Do you (Columbia or BioCycle) have numbers that break out the wood portion of your study similar to the EPA studies? 

Prof. Themelis (for Columbia Univ.): No, we do not.

Nora Goldstein (for BioCycle): We do not have a more detailed breakdown of wood waste in the MSW stream. One thing we've noted in BioCycle articles is how much woody debris is generated by the severe weather events so many parts of the country have been experiencing in recent years. This can skew numbers, more at the local level, versus the national aggregated numbers.

US EPA's cartoon for their report: Characaterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1996 Update

Mr. Bratkovich: The US EPA (2010) estimates that "wood" comprises 15.88 million tons (generation) out of approx. 249 million tons of MSW. Of this 15.88 million tons, the EPA notes that 2.30 million tons were recovered, resulting in a 14.5% recovery.

Prof. Themelis: The EPA tonnages of recovery of various materials are reliable because they get them from numbers of industry associations, e.g. paper recycling companies. However, their numbers of tonnages of MSW landfilled are not (reliable) because they are not based on recorded tonnages of MSW landfilled, as the Biocycle/Columbia study does.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kenya's Waste-to-Energy Community Cooker

An exchange between Global WTERT Council (GWC) associates Perinaz Bhada and Professor Nickolas Themelis about the the community cooker fired by solid waste operating in Laini Saba slum in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.

Perinaz Bhada: This community cooker in Nairobi's slum uses garbage as fuel.  Apparently, it achieves temperatures up to 850C by dripping sump oil and water onto a super-heated plate.  This eliminiates the toxins from burning the garbage.  What do you think?  Is it possible to eliminate most toxins in this way on such a small scale?  And if so, can this idea be replicated?  If the toxins can really be removed using this method, then this could potentially be a good way for getting rid of garbage in many slum areas, protecting the environment from reduced open burning, reducing the use of firewood, and providing a source of heat for cooking, heating water, etc.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
Laini Saba slum, Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya's community cooker fueled by solid waste. A waste-to-energy success.

Prof. Themelis: Dioxins and furans are formed from combustion of materials that contains some chlorine. Food wastes, green wastes and even wood contain a small amount of chlorine, PVC contains about 40% of chlorine.  Burning oil will sustain the fire but even if 850 degrees C temperature is achieved, there will still be dioxin/furans at an estimated concentration of about 100 ng TEQ/standard cubic meter (same as incinerators produced before MACT* APC**). However, the amount of flue gas from such furnaces will be small and all residential wood furnaces produce dioxins/furans but we still use them because the chimney conveys out of range of the occupants. If these African stoves are equipped with proper enclosures and chimneys that lead the furnace gas above the building where the furnace is located, they should be all right.

* MACT: Maximum Achievable Control Technology
** APC: Air Pollution Control

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies

The five Key Findings from the study Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies, carried out by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International for the American Chemistry Council are presented here for the benefit of our readers.

We hope this latest research on pyrolysis and gasification technologies will keep our readers up to date with the latest technologies under development and ready for deployment. This study can be considered a follow up to the Earth Engineering Center's (EEC) study for the American Chemistry Council, Energy and Economic Value of Non-recycled Plastics (NRP) and Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW) that are Currently Landfilled in the Fifty States.

The study, Environmental and Economic Analysis of Emerging Plastics Conversion Technologies yields the following key findings:   

1. A range of conversion technologies are already technologically feasible, and more may be possible. The study identified 41 conversion technologies facilities in development, in demonstration phase, or in full‐scale commercialization. The primary feature differentiating technologies is the feedstock.  Pyrolysis technologies are generally suited to handling feedstock from waste plastics; gasification technologies are generally suited to accepting MSW; anaerobic digestion and concentrated acid hydrolysis are more suited for organic wastes.

2. Conversion technologies are expected to begin breaking through to commercial viability with a short horizon – in 5 to 10 years. Plastics‐to‐oil pyrolysis technologies are generally closer to full scale commercialization than MSW‐based technologies (typically gasification), in part because of the more consistent feedstock composition and supply for the former.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Need for Global Attention to Solid Waste Management

Some countries have achieved considerable success in solid waste management. But the rest of the world is grappling to deal with its wastes. In these places, improper management of solid waste continues to impact public health of entire communities and cities; pollute local water, air and land resources; contribute to climate change and ocean plastic pollution; hinder climate change adaptation; and accelerate depletion of forests and mines.

Compared to solid waste management, we can consider that the world has achieved significant success in providing other basic necessities like food, drinking water, energy and economic opportunities. Managing solid wastes properly can help improve the above services further. Composting organic waste can help nurture crops and result in a better agricultural yield. Reducing landfilling and building sanitary landfills will reduce ground and surface water pollution which can help provide cleaner drinking water. Energy recovery from non-recyclable wastes can satiate significant portion of a city's energy requirement. Inclusive waste management where informal waste recylcers are involved can provide an enormous economic opportunity to the marginalized urban poor. Additionally, a good solid waste management plan with cost recovery mechanisms can free tax payers money for other issues.

In the case of India, sustainable solid waste management in 2011 would have provided
- 9.6 million tons of compost that could have resulted in a better agricultural yield
- energy equivalent to 58 million barrels of oil from non-recyclable wastes
- 6.7 million tons of secondary raw materials to industries in the form of recyclable materials and livelihood to the urban poor

Solid waste management until now has only been a social responsibility of the corporate world or one of the services to be provided by the municipality and a non-priority for national governments. However, in Mumbai, the improperly managed wastes generate 22,000 tons of toxic pollutants like particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrous and sulfur oxides in addition to 10,000 grams of carcinogenic dioxins and furans every year. These numbers are only for the city of Mumbai. This is the case in cities all across the developing world. There are numerous examples where groundwater is polluted by heavy metals and organic contaminants due to solid waste landfills. Solid waste management expenditure of above $ 1 billion per year competes with education, poverty, security and other sustainable initiatives in New York City. Fossil fuels for above 500,000 truck trips covering hundreds of miles are required to transport NYC's waste to landfills outside the city and state. Similarly, New Delhi spends more than half of its entire municipal budget on solid waste management, while it is desperate for investments and maintenance of roads, buildings, and other infrastructure.

Solid waste management is not just a corporate social responsibility or a non-priority service anymore. Improper waste management is a public health and environmental crisis, economic loss, operational inefficiency and political and public awareness failure. Integrated solid waste management can be a nation building exercise for healthier and wealthier communities. Therefore, it needs global attention to arrive at solutions which span across such a wide range of issues.

History of Gasification of Municipal Solid Waste through the eyes of Mr. Hakan Rylander

This is an excerpt from Let's speak about Waste To Energy..., an interview conducted by Antonis Mavropoulos and published on his Global View of Waste Management Blog****

Mr. Hakan Rylander, CEO Sysav Company Group
Mr. Hakan Rylander is a former President of International Solid Waste Association (ISWA)  and the current CEO of the SYSAV Company Group. He is one of the most experienced WtE engineers I know, involved in all different phases and aspects of a WtE facility. SYSAV is a role model company in WtE.  Mr. Hakan has held many other key-positions e.g. Chairman of the ISWA WtE Working Group, Swedish Representative in the Nordic Association of Waste Management, Chairman of the Scania Society of Engineers. Currently Hakan is also running the R&D Committee of Avfall Sverige.

Antonis Mavropoulos: What can we expect from the (Waste-to-Energy, WTE) technology in terms of improvements?

Hakan Rylander: - to reduce and minimize the amount of bottom ash. (More here)
- to develop a safe and environmentally correct way of final handling of the flue gas cleaning residues and to recover as much as technical and economically possible of the metal content in these residues and in the bottom ash (More here)
- to increase the electrical efficiency in the waste-to-energy plants. (More here)

About the History of Developing Gasification Technology for Municipal Solid Waste (MSW)

Last but not least, in a recent discussion I heard, probably for the 100th time in last two years, that incineration is dead and that gasification and plasma pyrolysis will soon substitute all incineration plants. What is the current status of those technologies? Are they applicable for Mixed MSW? Are there commercial applications and operational experiences? After all,  is it something we can trust?

Antonis: A lot of people say they are promising and they are more environmental friendly than incineration...?

Hakan: Well,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Media question about New York City's Waste-to-Energy RFP

Prof. Themelis, I'm a reporter at City & State, a New York politics and government newspaper.

I'm writing a short item about New York City's waste-to-energy Request for Proposal (RFP). Marco Castaldi, a professor at Columbia University and an expert on waste-to-energy technologies, told me that the city is moving in the right direction with this, but that older combustion technology should be considered along with newer technologies, such as gasification. I'm told the two main types of waste-to-energy technologies are combustion, which has been used for about 30 years, and gasification, which has emerged over the past five years or so.

He said that he's not for one type of technology or the other, but that as an engineer, it's best to have both options on the table to find the best possible solution for the city. For example, the newer gasification technologies are more versatile, since the gas created can be used in more ways, but it also is more expensive.

Do you agree with this? Is there a risk the city could end up promoting gasification when combustion might be a better option for the city as it tries to divert more waste from landfills?

Response of Prof. Themelis:
I agree with Prof. Castaldi and this is what we recommend to cities and towns who wnat to move away from landfilling: When they issue Requests For Proposals for thermal treatment (WTE) of MSW, they should not close the door to either established or new technologies. ALL technologies, older and newer, must meet very stringent emission standards so the decision of the municipality must be based on economics (lower gate fee to be paid by city per ton of MSW treated). Broadly, these economics depend on three factors: Plant availability (number of 24-hr days per year); energy production per ton of MSW; and capital investment per annual ton of capacity. On this basis, let the most economic process win. Regrettably in less informed/advanced cities, this issue has been so politicized that some RFPs specifically exclude the existing technologies, as was the case in the recent RFP of Mayor Bloomberg, The hope is that newer WTE technologies, such as gasification, will be more acceptable to people who for over twenty years have opposed any form of WTE for NYC; the result is that the City today landfills more wastes than in 2001. The scientific fact is that gasification is partial combustion, to produce syngas, followed by full combustion of the syngas to produce energy. All thermal treatment processes, old, new and future ones, require full combustion. People who prefer landfilling in other states to WTE in their own state are opposed to any type of WTE, as it happened to the Staten Island part of the NYC RFP last week.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Scientific American on "Does it make sense to get energy from garbage?

A reporter from New York Public Radio brought to my attention today (April 14, 2012) the above article in Scientific American. I found it to be factual until I came to the following statement by Laura Haight of NYPIRG:
"Laura Haight, senior environmental associate at New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), says that if the petition passes, waste will take incentives away from more sustainable technologies like wind and solar. She also says that presenting the issue as though incineration offsets landfill emissions is the wrong approach."
I don't know in what other environmental areas NYPIRG is involved but when it comes to waste management in New York State, I think it is doing a great disservice to New York and the City by constantly maintaining that the alternative to WTE is not landfilling but recycling. They have been propagating this myth for years and regrettably are successful, thereby perpetuating sending hundreds of thousands of garbage trucks annually over GWB to distant states for landfilling. In fact, the tons recycled in NYC have not changed much since 2002, when Mayor Bloomberg read our Life After Fresh Kills report. Also, recycling tonnage did not change much between 2008 and 2010, according to data provided on the web by the Department of Sanitation of NYC. NYPIRG obviously do not want to be confused by the facts.

If one goes to Theses, they will see a list of Theses sponsored by the Earth Engineering Center (EEC) in recent years that has included all means of sustainable waste management. Each thesis represents over one year of intense study by highly qualified young engineers (we have room for only one out of about ten applicants) who have come to Columbia's Earth and Environmental Engineering program because they want to contribute, in their career, to sustainable development. They report the facts.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Global Landfill Mapping Initiative

Contributors: Anne van den Heuvel, Ljupka Arsova, Ranjith Annepu, Roxanne Cason

The Cason Family Foundation (CFF) has launched the Global Landfill Mapping Initiative (Help us choose an Acronym). CFF intends to make this a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment with Esri in September, 2012.


Why? We are on the brink of an environmental and social crisis surrounding the issue of solid waste landfills. Improper disposal of waste is an enormous environmental and public health concern. Demand for recyclables is increasing due to scarcity of primary raw materials, rising commodity prices, Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility initiatives and general  economic incentives. 
1-2% of urban population in developing countries (where the largest unsanitary landfills are situated) are waste pickers who live and work on or around landfills [i].
It is estimated that 100 square kilometers of greenfields are converted to landfills every year, globally [ii].
Improper waste management emits 10,000 gTEQ of dioxins/furans and 22,000 metric tons of air pollutants every year in Mumbai alone
Despite these facts, locations of the existing landfills around the world remains unknown. There are no basic tools to facilitate a global approach to integrated solutions. Therefore, the Global Landfill Mapping Initiative (Help us choose an Acronym) aims to create an open-source interactive map of the of waste disposal sites around the world. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management - Clean India Journal

In this two page article, Clean India Journal writes about WTERT's Hierarchy of Sustainable Waste Management, which is an excerpt from WTERT's publication Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India.
The original hierarchy of waste management addresses Reducing, Reusing, Recycling of waste, Aerobic and Anaerobic Composting, Waste-to-Energy and Sanitary Landfilling. For the specific purpose of this study, “Unsanitary Landfilling and Open Burning” has been added to represent the indiscriminate dumping and burning of MSW and the general situation of SWM in India and other developing countries.
The hierarchy of waste management recognises that source reduction begins with reducing the amount of waste generated and reusing materials to prevent them from entering the waste stream. Thus, waste is not generated until the end of “reuse” phase. Once the waste is generated, it needs to be collected. Material recovery from waste in the form of recycling and composting is recognised to be the most effective way of handling wastes. Due to technical and economic limitations of recycling, product design, inadequate source separation and lack of sufficient markets that can use all sorted materials, most of the MSW generated in India ends up in landfills.

Waste Management in India: A Nice Report and an Important Blog

In this Article on Global View of Waste Management, the Author Antonis Mavropoulos, STC Chair of ISWA writes about WTERT's research

Source:  (Daniel Berehulak - AFP/Getty Images)
I am sure that all of you are familiar with the new role and the importance of India in the current global landscape.
I would say that from a sustainability point of view, the future of waste management in India is an issue with global importance and impacts, rather than a typical national or local aspect. The same is also true about China, but this is an issue for a next post.
I found some very interesting figures which I would like to share with you.

50% is the increase in MSW generated within a decade since 2001. In a “business as usual scenario”, urban India will generate 160.5 million tons per year or 440.000 tons per day by 2041!

Within next ten years India will generate

Waste to Energy for Integrated Waste Management in India

This Article on Waste Management World Magazine writes about WTERT's Research
Role for Waste to Energy in Integrated Indian Waste ManagementIf the Indian Waste to Energy industry can exhibit self-responsibility in emissions control, it could established itself as a solution to a crisis and lead the way for reforms in implementation of regulations across all other industries, according to a recent study.

The study - sponsored by the Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT), and conducted by Ranjith Kharvel Annepu - examined the present status of waste management in India, its effects on public health and the environment, and the prospects of introducing improved means of disposing Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in India.
The research investigated

What lies beneath – Digging in the World’s Trash Cans: Part 1

In this Article on, the Author Preethi Sukumaran thanks WTERT's Research.
A graphic photo in The Hindu recently inspired this two part blog post.
As we walk around Chennai, we often have to navigate mounds of garbage. Garbage has a mysterious way of reappearing in double its size after it has been hauled away just a night before, and I cannot help being intrigued by the contents of trash.
Even protected areas like the bio-diverse IIT Madras campus suffer from the garbage problem. A week back on one of our now frequent walks in the IIT campus, Srini and I came across a couple of beautiful spotted deer busily nosing around old discarded containers of junk food. As we gently chased away the deer (who looked most grieved) and safely disposed the junk food container; we began talking about Chennai’s trash cans, and what ails them.
burning of solid waste in Hyderabaqd
Some digging (this time on the internet) threw up very interesting facts and figures.
There are many ways to look at the trash data. The simplest – how much trash (or solid waste) does each country generate on an average?
It comes as no surprise that the average US citizen is nearly at the head of the pack; trashing nearly 2 Kg of solid waste every day compared to urban Indians who generate 600 grams of waste every day.
Before we begin to pat ourselves on the back, consider this:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sustainable Solid Waste Management in India

This study examined the present status of waste management in India, its effects on public health and the environment, and the prospects of introducing improved means of disposing municipal solid waste (MSW) in India. The systems and techniques discussed are Informal and Formal Recycling, Aerobic Composting and Mechanical Biological Treatment, Small Scale Biomethanation, Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), Waste-to-Energy Combustion (WTE), and Landfill Mining (or Bioremediation).
Recyclables from waste pickers reach here, for secondary separation, Musheerabad, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Photo Credits: Ranjith Annepu

The main objective of the study was to find ways in which the enormous quantity of solid wastes currently disposed off on land can be reduced by recovering materials and energy from wastes, in a cost effective and environmental friendly manner. The guiding principle of this study is that “responsible management of wastes must be based on science and best available technology and not on ideology and economics that exclude environmental costs and seem to be inexpensive now, but can be very costly in the future”. (Annexure 1)

Friday, March 16, 2012

U.S. Dioxin and Furan standards for WTE Plants

Response to query by construction and buildings organization:
The US emission standards for municipal waste combustion plants (WTE plants) are the same as in E.U, Japan, Singapore, etc. With regard to dioxin/furans, there is some confusion because EPA expressed the standard as TOTAL nanograms of dioxins per standard cubic meter of stack gas while the rest of the world express it as TOXIC EQUIVALENT (TEQ) nanograms. In the 2003 thesis of P. Deriziotis (, Publications, Theses) you can read that there are 200 dioxin compounds but only a few are toxic. The WHO and also EPA have developed the same toxic factors so that TOTAL ng can be converted to TEQ ng. For WTE plants, the conversion factor is about 100 so that the 13 ng total standard of EPA corresponds to 0.13 ng TEQ of other OECD nations, where the standard is 0.1 ng TEQ.
WTERT have been monitoring the US WTEs and current dioxin emissions are less than 0.1 ng TEQ which for the 28 million tons of MSW combusted in the US correspond to less than 10 grams TEQ of dioxins per year. EPA now reports that the major source of dioxins is "backyard barrel burning" estimated at over 500 TEQ grams per year. Other major sources are forest fires and the 4th of July fireworks. It is a real pity that some environmental groups perpetuate the "high dioxins" myth, thus contributing to the fact that the U.S. is the world's No. 1 landfiller.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Choosing the Right SWM Technology

Choosing the Right SWM Technology-Antonis Mavropoulos