Development and Validation of a Protocol for the Evaluation of Biodegradable Municipal Waste to Land

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Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Protection Agency

RPS was appointed by the EPA to develop a methodology for measuring the quantity of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) in Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) sent to landfill.

The Landfill Directive sets limitations on the amount of BMW that can be landfilled in each Member State. In 2009, the EPA transposed these limitations into a maximum allowable BMW content in MSW accepted at landfill. This required a mechanism for the monitoring of the biodegradable content of MSW from various streams including residual waste, organic fines and SRF / RDF arising from pre-treatment facilities. RPS investigated the key issues in the development of methodologies to determine the amount of BMW sent to landfill. RPS also carried out surveys over a twelve month period on twenty-two facilities representing 85% of mechanically treated municipal waste. This led to the development of seventeen generic BMW factors that could be applied to the various residual waste streams to calculate and report BMW tonnages.

RPS also produced a protocol for measuring site specific BMW tonnages. The EPA subsequently published a guidance document in 2011 entitled ‘Protocol for the Evaluation of Biodegradable Municipal Waste sent to Landfill’. A joint paper by the EPA and RPS on Ireland’s approach to measuring the diversion of BMW from landfill was presented at the Sardinia 2011 Symposium on International Waste Management. RPS also provided training to local authority personnel and EPA staff on the use of the protocol.