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 MSW being applied. The Resource Recovery Forum5

5 RRF, Assessment ofkerbside collection schemes for dry recy clables, Resource Recovery Forum, 1st Floor, The British School, Otley Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 1EP, UK, 2001.

Table 1 Composition on household recyclables and refuse (%, Eastleigh, April 2001)

Recyclables

Refuse

Total arisings

Newspapers

35.20

3.22

13.01

Magazines

23.98

3.04

9.45

Recyclable paper

5.07

1.95

2.91

Card and paper packaging

7.98

3.33

4.75

Cardboard

4.92

0.58

1.91

Card non-packaging

1.01

0.29

0.51

Liquid cartons

0.47

0.42

0.44

Non-recyclable paper

2.55

6.49

5.28

Refuse sacks and carrier bags

0.59

4.64

3.40

Film: packaging

0.84

4.20

3.17

Film: non-packaging

0.03

0.49

0.35

PET clear bottles

1.94

0.49

0.93

PET coloured bottles

0.38

0.14

0.21

HDPE clear bottles

1.79

0.34

0.78

HDPE coloured bottles

0.91

0.35

0.52

PVC clear bottles

0.14

0.06

0.08

PVC coloured bottles

0.00

0.00

0.00

Food packaging

0.96

3.19

2.51

Non-food packaging

0.70

1.14

1.01

Other dense plastic

0.71

2.68

2.08

Natural and man-made fibres

0.36

2.62

1.93

Disposable nappies

0.13

5.50

3.86

Shoes

0.00

1.00

0.69

Wood

0.16

1.23

0.90

Other

0.82

2.82

2.21

Unclassified non combustibles

0.05

3.45

2.41

Clear bottles and jars

0.12

2.39

1.69

Green bottles and jars

0.09

0.70

0.51

Brown bottles and jars

0.09

0.61

0.45

Other glass

0.38

3.36

2.45

Food cans

4.02

1.94

2.58

Beverage cans

0.42

0.14

0.23

Batteries

0.01

0.00

0.00

Aerosols

0.15

0.27

0.23

Other ferrous

1.09

1.99

1.71

Aluminium foil

0.03

0.44

0.31

Aluminium beverage cans

0.72

0.29

0.42

Aluminium food cans

0.00

0.05

0.03

Other aluminium

0.29

0.94

0.74

Garden waste

0.00

0.31

0.22

Kitchen compostables

0.07

3.00

2.10

Kitchen non-compostable

0.48

24.35

17.04

Particles <10 mm

0.35

5.56

3.96

Total

100.00

100.00

100.00

Arisings, kg/household per week

4.5

10.0

14.5

Source: Resource Recovery Forum (2001).;

Source: Resource Recovery Forum (2001).;

Table 2 Comparison of waste compositions in Europe

Country

Data year

Arisings (tpa x 103)

Paper & card

Glass

Metals

Textiles

Plastics

Organics Other

Belgium

1997

337

18

10

3

3

1

31

28

(Brussels)

Belgium

1995

1524

20

9

3

2

8

33

25

(Wallonia)

Denmark

1985

1900

22

2

3

5

4

55

9

Greece

1996

3606

18

3

3

4

10

51

11

Spain

1996

15 305

21

7

4

5

11

44

8

France

1995

26000

25

13

4

3

14

29

15

Ireland

1995

1027

23

6

3

3

10

34

21

Luxembourg

1993

99

19

7

3

2

8

43

17

Netherlands

1996

7537

27

6

2

2

5

39

18

Austria

1996

2775

24

9

7

3

15

29

1

Finland

1994

2100

33

2

5

2

3

33

35

Bulgaria

1997

3628

11

6

3

4

7

38

31

Czech

1996

3200

8

4

2

2

4

18

61

Republic

Hungary

1996

5000

19

3

4

3

5

32

33

Latvia

1995

14

8

4

3

7

48

16

Lithuania

1997

1

2

19

1

0

40

0

Romania

1997

4357

17

6

6

6

7

56

2

Slovakia

1996

1700

13

6

8

3

9

26

35

Slovenia

1995

1024

15

5

7

0

10

32

31

Norway

1997

1354

31

3

4

5

8

27

22

Switzerland

1994

2660

29

3

3

2

15

38

10

published a report which showed the results of extensive analyses of one source of household waste, showing the detailed breakdown of residual waste and materials recovered for recycling (Table 1).

Eurostat6 reports that data availability on waste composition is generally very poor and difficult to compare, not least because the characterisation techniques may vary from country to country. Because of this, the method used to assess the weight of the various fractions may influence the results due to the fact that objects containing various materials may or may not be assigned to a single category. The compositions reported (see Table 2) may not always refer to the total amount of municipal waste generated which should - but does not always -include all the waste fractions separately collected for recycling and recovery operations.

Waste Arisings

The rate at which individuals create waste is at least as variable as the composition of the waste generated. The average European now creates more

6 Eurostat, Regional environmental statistics-initial data collection results, ISBN 92-828-6259-3,2001.

Figure 1 Municipal waste generated per capita by country in western Europe

WJWi

iS NO CH

than half a tonne of municipal solid waste each year, and arisings are generally stable, although growth is still taking place in some countries.

The European agency Eurostat publishes waste and other environmental statistics, which indicate7 that the trend in municipal solid waste arisings continues to grow, accounting for approximately 190 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) in the mid-1990s, averaging 575 kg per person per annum (see Figure 1).

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