To develop strategies to manage environmental challenges such as climate change and sustainability, Defra needs good quality data on waste composition. Waste characteristics dictate waste management options, and the use of the data underpins science on, for example, control of contaminants/ emissions to the environment and resource flow through the economy. This project aims to contribute towards that evidence-base.
While UK datasets for non-MSW waste streams exist, greater value could be obtained from them if collated in a single, public domain, interrogable database. Many UK waste characterisation datasets are not readily available for evaluation or comparison with other data. The generation of UK data has been driven by disparate objectives and public domain datasets are in different formats (electronic/non-electronic) and locations. Furthermore, these may comprise only analysis of ‘total’ composition, which may be of little use for assessing potential environmental impacts.
Van der Sloot (ECN) et al. have shown that release from a wide range of materials is systematic, not specific, largely controlled by generic mechanisms, and that a horizontal approach can be taken to handling the data. Interpretive tools developed to understand release from one material can be transposed to another. ECN has established a waste characterisation database/ expert system (‘EUleachXS’) containing data from 3 countries. WRc has worked with ECN to develop a database of leaching and composition data for a wide range of wastes, landfilled waste and leachate and limit values. Research publicised by umbrella networks (e.g. CLAIRE, STARNET), funding agencies (research councils, EA and landfill tax bodies) and specific research departments was targeted for access to data. For example, Stegmann’s (UC) MONOLITH database was already usable with proper acknowledgement. Regulatory limit values were collected to allow high-level comparison of the datasets with, e.g. acceptance and reuse criteria.
The project delivers a database populated with national waste composition/ characterisation data. It provides access to detailed European data on the leachability of wastes, allowing comparison with existing UK data. It focuses on obtaining the best value from existing datasets on non-MSW waste streams in the UK, and uploading them into databases with expert tools for the management, interpretation and scenario-specific usage of the data for a wide range of end-users. Knowledge of contaminant and potential resource flow after disposal will contribute to understanding the resource cycle, specifically material flows and the development of techniques for increasing resource efficiency.
Possible end-users of the data include regulators, industry and academics requiring contextual information for mitigating the impact of release from waste-derived materials or improving their leaching characteristics to meet specific end-use or disposal criteria. At a national level the information is also valuable for material flow analysts.
1. To identify candidate UK datasets (including waste characteristics, landfill leachate and regulatory limit values) and arrange access to the best reliable data;
2. To develop a demonstration of the systems and the developing evaluation tools;
3. To develop expertise in the use of the system and make further development to the early prototype, coordinating this work with the EU-funded project HORIZONTAL programme;
4. To develop and deliver a structured approach to the collation, verification and uploading of agreed datasets retaining an audit trail of data collection as a quality assurance measures;
5. To prepare and upload a ‘read me’ user guide to the database for the benefit of new users one month before the end of the contract;
6. To deliver the database, in the form of a dedicated laptop with software installed to drive the system, to Defra.