Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text Page: 31 of 216
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The ash from MSW combustion and the residue from the scrubber (used to neutralize acid
gases in the gas stream) are disposed of, often in landfills called "ash monofills" that contain
only ash. Modern plants using good combustion practices can reduce the volume of MSW by up
to 90%. The leachate from ash monofills is normally smaller in volume than that from ordinary
landfills, and the constituents of the leachate are also different.
Curbside Separation and Mixed Waste Separation and Recycling
Curbside separation and mixed waste separation and recycling permit a reduction in the
amount of waste that must be handled by other MSW options. As outlined previously under
"Methodology," the five steps in recycling are: (1) separating reusable materials from other
waste; (2) transporting and processing (including remanufacturing) the separated materials for
use as replacements for virgin materials; (3) managing the wastes from separation and recycling;
(4) returning the materials to commerce; (5) selling the recycled products. At present, most
recycling efforts focus on the following reusable materials: newsprint, cardboard, glass,
aluminum, some tin cans, and some plastics (particularly plastic beverage containers).
Some of the statistics that indicate that recycling now manages 10% or more of the nation's
MSW are reporting estimates that include the amounts of material diverted from the local landfill
by separate collection of recyclables, bottle deposit laws, and separate collection of yard waste
for composting. Data on the amounts of MSW that are finally remanufactured and returned to
commerce have not been found; however, they are clearly lower than the total quantities
collected because some of the material is used as fuel, some is lost during remanufacturing, and
when market conditions are poor, some may be landfilled.
Communities that wish to include recycling in their MSW management strategies have
several options for separating recyclables from other waste. They can offer convenient sites
where residents can receive payment for containers (e.g., buy-back centers); provide dropoff
centers that may accept a wide range of recyclable and compostable materials; implement
curbside collection of recyclable materials separated by residents from other MSW; and/or
process mixed waste to separate recyclables.
Either mixed MSW collected in a standard packer truck or recyclables collected separately
at curbside can be sent to a materials recovery facility (MRF) for further separation and
consolidation of the collected materials. MRFs can be divided into "low-tech" and "high-tech"
facilities, depending on the amount of manual labor required. All MRFs rely heavily on manual
labor to sort and separate grades of paper and glass bottles by color, and plastic bottles by resin
type and color. Nearly all MRFs also use magnets for recovering ferrous metals, and many use
balers for paper, crushers for glass, and flatteners for the aluminum cans. High-tech MRFs
would generally also use additional shredders, screens, possibly air classifiers for separating
heavy materials from lighter ones, and special eddy-current separators that can separate
aluminum. Currently operating MRFs have sufficient design capacity to process 1 million tons
per year of recyclables. Another 3 million tons of capacity are scheduled to begin operation by
1993. If all the planned facilities actually become operational, they will have the annual capacity
to process 2% of all U.S. MSW in 1993.
Many communities conduct curbside collection programs for recyclables but do not operate
MRFs. No data on collection rates for those programs were found.
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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/m1/31/: accessed May 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.