Municipal solid waste composition: Sampling methodology, statistical analyses, and case study evaluation

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Sound waste management and optimisation of resource recovery require reliable data on solid waste generation and composition. In the absence of standardised and commonly accepted waste characterisation methodologies, various approaches have been reported in literature. This limits both comparability and applicability of the results. In this study, a waste sampling and sorting methodology for efficient and statistically robust characterisation of solid waste was introduced. The methodology was applied to residual waste collected from 1442 households distributed among 10 individual sub-areas in three Danish municipalities (both single and multi-family house areas). In total 17 tonnes of waste were sorted into 10-50 waste fractions, organised according to a three-level (tiered approach) facilitating,comparison of the waste data between individual sub-areas with different fractionation (waste from one municipality was sorted at "Level III", e.g. detailed, while the two others were sorted only at "Level I"). The results showed that residual household waste mainly contained food waste (42 +/- 5%, mass per wet basis) and miscellaneous combustibles (18 +/- 3%, mass per wet basis). The residual household waste generation rate in the study areas was 3-4 kg per person per week. Statistical analyses revealed that the waste composition was independent of variations in the waste generation rate. Both, waste composition and waste generation rates were statistically similar for each of the three municipalities. While the waste generation rates were similar for each of the two housing types (single-family and multi-family house areas), the individual percentage composition of food waste, paper, and glass was significantly different between the housing types. This indicates that housing type is a critical stratification parameter. Separating food leftovers from food packaging during manual sorting of the sampled waste did not have significant influence on the proportions of food waste and packaging materials, indicating that this step may not be required. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWaste Management
Pages (from-to)12-23
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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