Examining The Effects of Waste Diversion on Leachate Quality
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The disposal of Municipal Solid Waste has traditionally been a concern to society due to environmental liability and availability of land (Fan, Shu, Yang, & Chen, 2006). Waste management usually incorporates several types of processes: recycling, composting, incinerating and ultimately disposal of waste in a landfill. To minimize the impact of these processes on society, waste reduction is a very useful waste management strategy. Unfortunately, “modern” society is not yet ready to produce “zero waste” and hence landfilling will be required for some time. This is why landfilling is one of the most commonly used waste management techniques in the world (Read, Hudgins, & Phillips, 2001). Landfills offer economic benefits, such as, relatively low capital investment costs (Lema, Mendez, & Blazquez, 1988; Reinhart & Grosh, 1998) and the ability to decompose waste in a controlled environment (Robinson & Maris, 1983). One perceived problem with landfills, is that leachate will eventually seep out into the surrounding environment, even with a containment barrier in place (Koshy, Paris, Ling, Jones, & BeruBe, 2007; Pivato & Gaspari, 2006; Read, et al., 2001). However, many advances in landfill engineering have been made over the past 20 years and it is known that well designed landfills can offer environmental protection in perpetuity (Rowe, 2006). Most of the available information on leachate quality from landfills has been taken from studies in which landfills consist of “waste” that has not been subject to any sort of diversion or separation measures. Published leachate data (e.g. Rowe, Quigley, Brachman & Booker, 2004) shows high amounts of variability in terms of concentration but often exhibits similar constituents. Leachate quality investigations are very complicated because leachate quality is affected by several factors such as initial composition, volume of waste, particle size and density of waste, as well as, climate, age of landfill, landfill design and operation and interactions of leachate with the surrounding environment (Yildiz, Unlu, & Rowe, 2004; Qasim & Chiang, 1994). Leachate research has increased in the past 25 years (Renou, Givaudan, Poulain, Dirassouyan, & Moulin, 2008); however, little research can be found relating to the influence of waste diversion on leachate quality. Collins (1991) is one of the few studies that has examined this topic is some detail. Collins (1991) studies have shown that recycling of paper and other inorganic constituents can promote lower COD and iron concentrations. Other previous studies have compared leachate quality with aspects of waste management (Christensen et al., 2001; Lema, et al., 1988; Lo, 1996; Reinhart & Grosh, 1998; Renou, et al., 2008). Studies like Reinhart and Grosh (1998) have compared Florida leachate quality to other landfills through literature review and found Florida landfills produced diluted leachate compared to other landfills found in the Browning-Ferris Industries landfill data (Reinhart & Grosh, 1998). In addition, shredded waste had significantly higher concentrations of organic pollutants in the leachate compared to that of unshredded waste. As well, co-disposal of ash with municipal solid waste did not appear to adversely impact leachate quality (Reinhart & Grosh, 1998). The above mentioned studies show that comparisons can be completed on leachate and other aspects of waste management. A possible solution to lowering costs and potential risks associated with leachate would be to improve the quality of leachate (i.e. lower concentrations). Waste diversion is a technique that could possibly improve leachate quality by lowering certain hazardous constituents found in leachate. Possible techniques a municipality can use for waste diversion is through an active recycling, composting or a hazardous waste collection program. This project will look at the effects recycling, composting and hazardous waste diversion have on leachate quality. It is hypothesized in the research that although waste diversion programs may have limited influence on the quality of municipal solid waste leachate, it may significantly reduce hazardous waste leachate constituents.