Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills worldwide are experiencing the consequences of conventional landfilling techniques, whereby the landfill leachate and gases that are generated from these units have been determined, in many cases, to be risks to human health and the environment.
A primary issue commonly found at landfills is the production of high concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide, and volatile organic compounds that are the cause of many odor complaints. With these issues in mind, new landfill LFG regulations have been established by EPA in an effort to
protect human health and the environment, and to indirectly reduce odors. However, these regulations address only a few of the many landfill issues that operators face. And they can be costly. Recently, two unique landfill projects were conducted in Georgia (USA), whereby it was demonstrated
that the aerobic degradation of MSW within a landfill can not only significantly increase the rate of waste decomposition and settlement as well as reduce the level of contaminants in the leachate, but it was observed that this approach also decreased the production of methane, carbon dioxide
and offensive odors that are typical of conventional landfills. Readily integrated into the landfill infrastructure, this approach cost-effectively converted portions of these Subtitle D landfills from anaerobic to aerobic degradation processes, while waste mass temperatures and moisture content
remained within target ranges. Based on the data from these two sites, as presented herein, this approach could be useful in controlling odors and LFG emissions at MSW landfills worldwide, possibly, as a low cost option for landfills where WTE or other options are not economically attractive.
Furthermore, combining these benefits with the possibility of landfill reuse (via landfill mining) could increase the potential for a sustainable landfill strategy that would lower overall landfill operating costs, reduce environmental risks, and significantly extend the life of the landfill.
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