Damage Costs per Kilogram of Waste

It has become fashionable to carry out life cycle assessments (LCA), taking into account all stages of a process from cradle to grave. However, the appropriate system boundaries for an LCA depend on the question under consideration, a point often overlooked. For example, a cost-benefit analysis of flue gas clean up technologies for incinerators should take into account only the incineration, not other stages of waste management. A comparison of incineration with landfill should take into...

Introduction

The composting process can be defined as the controlled biological decomposition and stabilisation of organic substrates, under conditions that are predominantly aerobic and that allow the development of thermophilic temperatures as a result of biologically produced heat. It results in a final product that has been sanitised and stabilised, is high in humic substances and can be beneficially applied to land, which is typically referred to as 'compost' (modified from Haug1). Farmers have...

Incineration

Waste Incineration Diagram

Mass burn incineration is used for the treatment and disposal of municipal solid waste throughout the world. The composition and characteristics of the waste will influence the combustion properties and emissions produced from the combustion system. A typical calorific value for municipal solid waste is approximately 9000 kJ kg-1 ash and moisture contents tend to be high and thus in terms of a fuel the waste would compare poorly with, for example, coal. Table 6 shows typical properties of...

Composition

The composition of MSW is variable, depending on a range of factors. Household waste reflects population density and economic prosperity, seasonality, housing standards and the presence of waste minimisation initiatives (for example home composting). The prevalence of open fires in the home will affect the levels of combustible materials in the waste stream. Commercial waste will be influenced by the nature of the commerce. The composition of MSW will also depend on the specific definition of...

Composting

The word 'compost' conjures up images of an untidy heap of assorted kitchen and vegetable remains at the far end of the garden. A more scientific definition of compost would be the product of natural degradation of botanical and putrescible waste by the action of bacteria, fungi, insects and animals in the presence of an adequate air supply. The biological decomposition processes break down complex organic substances into carbon dioxide, water and a residue compost. The final product is...

Recycling

It is widely recognised that waste management practices that continue to favour landfill over other waste management options are unsustainable.21 New, integrated, systems are required to promote the more efficient use of resources and the parallel economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable development. This has prompted a series of measures at both national and European levels to divert wastes to other management routes. However, as in shown in subsequent section, it has...

Disease Health Measurement

Health status measurement may range from death and life threatening diseases requiring medical treatment to quality of life measures. Landfills and incinerators, for example, may impact on health through biological effects of toxic chemical exposures, or through stress associated with smell, visual, noise, local economic or other aspects of waste site operation. Stress may also occur because of fear of chemical toxicity. Understanding the pathways to ill health is important for preventive...

Constraints on Recycling

While people generally think that more people in London should recycle, most survey participants have deep-seated beliefs why they personally could, or should not, do more. Myths about dumping of materials collected for recycling undermine some people's psychological commitment. A significant minority also believes that the local Council does not recycle all the materials that it asks for. Indeed, many people feel that their own recycling efforts are not matched by Councils 'doing their bit'....

Previous Research Concerning Waste Handsorting

Waste management has previously been an under-researched occupation. In the UK, accident and illness have traditionally not been separated in national health and safety statistics. Many studies are concentrated on mixed waste sorting facilities, many of which produce Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) for incineration. Mixed waste sorting facilities are distinct from MRFs in that the quality of recyclates recovered is lower than in a positively managed waste stream, as outlined in a recent publication...

Adverse Birth Outcomes

This section takes a more detailed look at all the landfill studies reporting excess risks of birth defects and low birth weight as these are the health outcomes that have been rightly or wrongly most consistently linked with landfills. The review focuses on four recent studies of UK and European landfills, as they provide the bulk of the evidence on the risks of adverse birth outcomes near landfills, they have been the subject of much scientific debate, and they illustrate some of the...

Confounding

To be a confounder, a factor must be a risk factor for the disease and it must be associated with the exposure of interest in the study population. Confounding can lead to either overestimation or underestimation of risk related to the exposure, depending on how the confounding factor is related to both disease and exposure. In environmental epidemiology, one of the main types of confounding of concern is socio-economic confounding. Socioeconomic status is associated with the risk of a wide...

Landfill Design and Operation

Before constructing a landfill, detailed preparations are required by licensing authorities. Landfills consist of areas (cells) of waste, spread and compacted in discrete areas. Compaction is often carried out, using bulldozers in poorer countries, and specialised steel-wheeled compactors elsewhere. These can achieve final waste densities of more than one tonne per cubic metre (t m3), although 0.7-0.8 t m-3 is more typical. At the end of each day, or more frequently, the waste is buried with a...

Waste Landfill

Landfill Design Stages

Landfill represents the largest route for the disposal of waste throughout Europe and North America. Landfill disposal is seen in many respects as the bottom rung of the hierarchy of waste disposal options when considering the concept of sustainable waste management. However, the modern landfill site is an advanced treatment and disposal option designed and managed as an engineering project in which the waste is degraded to a stabilised product and the product leachate is treated to minimise...

Eurohazcon Studies

The EUROHAZCON project has resulted in two multi-site landfill studies on birth defects and residence near hazardous waste landfill sites. Dolk et al examined non-chromosomal birth defects, while Vrijheid et al. examined Down's syndrome and other chromosomal defects.18'19 Non-chromosomal defects are adverse teratogenic (developmental) conditions that result from abnormal cell growth in the developing embryo or foetus. Chromosomal defects are associated with major structural mutations in the...

Trends in Incineration in Europe

There is a trend towards larger, more economic plants for incineration with energy recovery with better environmental performance, improved energy efficiency and lower unit operating costs. There is also a complementary trend towards small units adapted to local geography and the desire to contain transport costs. These reflect local conditions and greater public acceptance of small units. The mid-size units (200-300000 tonnes) will be less common in the future. There is pressure for tighter...

Emissions

In terms of total environmental costs the greenhouse emissions, especially carbon dioxide (co2) and methane (CH4), are likely to dominate. However, most of their impacts are in categories other than direct health effects. Furthermore, an inventory of relative greenhouse gas emissions for alternative MSW treatment options would require fairly detailed specification of the landfill or other alternatives, in particular how much of the CH4 from the decay of organic matter is captured. That is...

Who Pays

Inevitably, an issue at the heart of waste management decisions is who should pay. In general, industry tends to believe that the owner of waste at the point of disposal should pay for its management. Often, policy-makers prefer that the costs are imposed on the first producers, importers or retailers (this cost is of course passed back to the consumers, who will also have to pay their taxes for disposal of their residual waste). This was the case in European legislation on waste electrical and...

Calculation of Damage

The total damage D due to a quantity Q of a pollutant is obtained by integrating the damage at a point x over all points x of the region affected by the pollutant the damage at a point x is the product of the receptor density p(x), the slope of scr of the CR function, and the concentration increment c(x) due to Q. The damage depends on the site where the pollutants are emitted. Site dependence is illustrated in Figure 3 for primary pollutants, i.e. pollutants harmful in the form emitted by a...

Subject Index

Adverse birth outcomes, 103, 116 Aerated static piles, 74 Air pollutants, classical, 174 Air pollution control, 163 Allergenic fungi, 80 Allergic asthma, 84 Allergic rhinitis, 84 Alternar a spp., 84 Ambient air quality standards, 182 Ambient bioaerosol levels, 91 Arsenic, 185 Ash residues, 163 Aspergillosis, 80, 99 Aspergillus spp., 78 Aspergillus fumigatus, 79 Asthma, allergic, 84 Atmospheric dilution, 131 Atmospheric modelling, 131 Bacillus spp., 78 Bacteria, 80 coliform, 79 psychrotrophic,...

Review of Purported Health Outcomes

This review is limited to studies of waste sites operated for the express purpose of landfilling, thus restricting the analysis to sites conforming to the generally accepted view of what constitutes a landfill. We know of 13 single-site studies covering seven such sites1,617 and an additional four relevant multiple landfill site studies.18-22 6 H. M. P. Fielder, C. Jones, S. R. Palmer, R. A. Lyons, S. Hillier and M. Joffe, Report on the Study of Time to Pregnancy in the Rhondda Valleys, Welsh...

Further Study on MRFs

From the literature review, it can be determined that there are various gaps in the reported studies where there is little research concerning MRFs. This was recognised both by European BIOMED2 funding, and by the Environment Agency for England and Wales. They co-funded a study to provide information on issues such as physical and chemical hazards in MRFs, and potential bioaerosol exposures in relation to actual health effects. This study was performed in eleven MRFs throughout England and...