The purpose of this module is to learn about municipal solid waste generation, composition, and characteristics. Information provided in this module describes processes used to quantify waste generation, composition, and important physical and chemical waste characteristics.

Understanding the amount of waste generated and its composition and properties is critical to making informed decisions regarding the planning, design, and implementation of integrated waste management programs. Information associated with rates of waste generation and its composition is necessary for developing appropriate waste management design and operation strategies. Physical and chemical properties of the waste must also be known when developing effective management strategies. Physical waste properties are particularly important in sizing of management facilities and evaluating potential processing and recovery options. Understanding the chemical properties of waste is important in evaluating processing, recovery, and conversion processes.

Information provided in this module has application throughout other modules, including anaerobic digestion, collection, landfilling, and thermal conversion. This module contains information, web links, and activities that will provide the student an in depth understanding of waste generation rates, waste composition, and waste properties.

By completing this waste generation and characteristics module, you will be able to:

  1. Define municipal solid waste (MSW).
  2. Describe why quantification of MSW generation is important and the different methods used to quantify it.
  3. Describe typical MSW composition.
  4. Understand the relationship between generated, landfilled, and diverted wastes.
  5. Describe typical physical and chemical properties of MSW.
  6. Perform calculations using waste composition and properties.

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