Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text Page: 24 of 216
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published data would require validation. One goal of the study was to identify missing informa-
tion and to define additional research needed to improve the options for managing MSW.
This report was intended to help communities make informed decisions by giving them
consistent data describing their possible choices. The scope of the study excluded a number of
factors that a community may wish to consider, such as ecological impacts, health risks, local
social values, and the regulatory requirements of specific jurisdictions. Because the report
focuses on options for managing waste that is set out for collection, it does not discuss programs
designed to reduce the amount of waste to be picked up for disposal, such as source reduction
and backyard composting.
In this effort to provide data on a consistent basis for the variety of technologies covered in
the study, it was necessary to use data of widely varying quality. Furthermore, in converting all
the data to a consistent basis, as described below under "Methodology," it was necessary to make
a number of assumptions. The assumptions used in the conversions reduce the accuracy of the
estimates presented here, independently from the quality of the original data on which the
estimates were based.
The availability of extensive, reliable data varied significantly from process to process, as
outlined below. For combustion processes, extensive data are available on costs, and well-
verified data are available on energy and emissions. Less consistent data are available on
landfilling, and few data have been found on collection, separation, and remanufacturing and on
Data on collection and transportation and cost data for all technologies involve special
problems. They are therefore discussed separately in a later subsection of this summary.
In general, the data for rapidly completed processes (such as combustion) are much more
extensive than data for processes that occur slowly (such as the degradation in landfills). The
original data used for energy and emissions from mass burning and combustion of RDF are quite
reliable because the performance of those systems can be accurately measured. Data on the
slower processes like landfilling are suspect because little reliable information is available on
energy use and production and environmental releases generated over long periods.
Among the slower processes, the best data appear to be those on landfill gas generation;
however, individual sources report widely varying rates of production from different landfills.
The least accurate estimates used in the study are on the amounts and composition of water
releases from landfills containing MSW or ash. Some of the data on the composition of the
leachate reflect measurements made by researchers following strict quality assurance procedures,
and those data seem reliable. However, all the sources report samples taken on a single occasion
or over relatively brief periods of time. No studies quantifying water releases over long periods
were found, and the method used in this study to extrapolate emissions over 20 years from
individual measurements is speculative.
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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/m1/24/: accessed May 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.