Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text Page: 23 of 216
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Selecting an approach for managing a community's municipal solid waste (MSW) is a
difficult, technically complex process. The problem is compounded by a lack of comprehensive
sources of current data on the various possible approaches to MSW management. In general, the
best available data are for systems that include environmental controls. Thus, extensive data
have been published on air emissions from the combustion of waste, and significant amounts of
data are available on air emissions and leachate from landfills. Few data exist on composting or
on curbside collection, separation, and remanufacturing of recyclable materials. In addition, very
few life-cycle assessments of waste management alternatives have been published. The National
Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) began a review for the Department of Energy (DOE) to
determine what is already known and establish a consistent basis for comparing the
environmental releases, energy use and production, and economics of waste management
This study was initiated to compile publicly available data on the five major options
commonly used for MSW management today:
" Mass burning for energy recovery
" Production and combustion of refuse-derived fuel (RDF)
" Collection/separation of recyclable materials
The report on the study, "Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alterna-
tives," and this executive summary summarize the data on those options. The report also
provides some data on energy, environmental releases, and economics for the following less
commonly used options:
" Anaerobic digestion
- Cofiring of RDF with coal
Because no commercial anaerobic digestion and gasification/pyrolysis facilities have operated in
the United States, the data for these options are based on pilot plant results.
Many communities will use more than one option to manage MSW. Such combinations of
options are identified here as "integrated strategies." For example, some communities offer
curbside collection of recyclable materials in addition to collection of the remaining MSW for
landfilling or combustion. Some communities collect yard waste for composting, as well. This
report provides the data needed to compare the wide variety of integrated strategies.
Realistically, it was expected that some information would be unavailable, and that some
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SRI International. Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text, report, October 1992; Golden, Colorado. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1310776/m1/23/: accessed May 25, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.