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13.9(36.6%) 4.3(11.3%) 2.5(6.6%) 2.3 (6.1%) 1.8(4.7%) 38.0(100%)

Note: Data are one-week samples per month from a two-person household. All waste categories were recycled except for unsorted trash which went to the local landfill in the weekly pickup. Average solid waste generation was 2.7 lb/person/day with a ratio of nearly 2:1 of recycled vs. landfill waste.

Gas Collection

Gas Collection

FIGURE 6.2 Cross-section view of a typical sanitary landfill. (From Tammemagi, H. 1999. The Waste Crisis: Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future. Oxford University Press, New York. With permission.)

management. The two main kinds of ecosystems associated with solid wastes are the sanitary landfill and composting systems. The sanitary landfill has very slow decomposition rates because (1) only a small part of the wastes are high quality, organic materials, (2) some toxic, hazardous wastes may be present, and (3) little oxygen and water are available to support decomposition. Conversely, composting systems have relatively fast decomposition rates because all factors controlling the process are engineered to be optimal. These decomposer-based systems are described in this chapter with emphasis on ecological dimensions. The new field of industrial ecology is also introduced as a possible example of reverse engineering of ecosystems for solid waste management. Finally, comments are made on economics, especially in terms of the by-product values of solid waste materials.

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