Data Summary of Municipal Solid Waste Management Alternatives. Volume 1: Report Text Page: 76 of 216
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The maximum capacity of a landfill is usually determined by volume, not weight. Figure
3.1 compares landfill volumes required by the 11 major MSW management strategies. Figure
3.2 shows the same data in terms of weight (tons of residue to be landfilled for each ton of MSW
at the curb processed by the various technologies). The differences among the technologies are
less dramatic when they are reported by weight.
In terms of landfill space saved, the various strategies for managing MSW fall into two
categories: strategies that involve combustion and those that do not. The land area consumed for
MSW management is smallest if recoverables are separated, the remaining waste is burned, and
the ash from combustion is landfilled; it is largest if all waste is landfilled.
MSW combustion technologies reduce the need for landfill volume by up to 90% (FR,
1991a) because the ash is dense compared to raw or compacted MSW. When separation of
metals and glass precedes combustion, the residual volume is further reduced. The combination
of mixed waste recycling and mass burning or RDF preparation and combustion requires less
landfill space than any other MSW management strategy evaluated in this report. Adding
curbside recycling before combustion is almost as effective in reducing landfill space
requirements as using mixed waste recycling with combustion of the residue. Some RDF
combustion technologies reject material to the landfill before combustion, and those require a
larger total landfill volume than is needed when all the MSW is burned.
Collection and separation of recyclables saves about 90% of the landfill space required for
the amount collected at the curbside, which currently averages about 16% of the volume of MSW
(12% by weight) in communities that have successful curbside collection programs and market
the separated products; however, landfill or waste disposal space is required for impurities
generated during the remanufacturing of the recyclables. An MSW management strategy that
involves preparation of RDF and composting of the RDF reduces the volume of landfilled
material by 50-60% if the compost can be used (recycled). Even if the compost is landfilled,
composting saves about 15-25% of the landfill space.
The amount of landfill space that can be saved by composting separately collected yard
waste is not well known. In the community used as a model for the data on transportation
distances and participation rates for composting in this study, separately collected yard waste for
composting had little impact on landfill volume because actual participation rates were low. In
general, compacting in a landfill achieves smaller volume reductions for yard waste than for
packaging (Franklin Associates 1990a); as a result, the elimination of yard waste from the
landfill saves less space than would be expected on the basis of the weight of the yard waste.
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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/m1/76/: accessed May 27, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.