Micro-treatment options for components of organic fraction of MSW in residential areas
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There is a growing interest in management of MSW through micro-treatment of organic fraction of municipal solid wastes (OFMSW) in many cities of India. The OFMSW fraction is high (>80%) in many pockets within South Indian cities like Bangalore, Chikkamagalur, etc. and is largely represented by vegetable, fruit, packing and garden wastes. Among these, the last three have shown problems for easy decomposition. Fruit wastes are characterized by a large pectin supported fraction that decomposes quickly to organic acids (becomes pulpy) that eventually slow down anaerobic and aerobic decomposition processes. Paper fraction (newsprint and photocopying paper) as well as paddy straw (packing), bagasse (from cane juice stalls) and tree leaf litter (typical garden waste and street sweepings) are found in reasonably large proportions in MSW. These decompose slowly due to poor nutrients or physical state. We have examined the suitability of these substrates for micro-composting in plastic bins by tracking decomposition pattern and physical changes. It was found that fruit wastes decompose rapidly to produce organic acids and large leachate fraction such that it may need to be mixed with leachate absorbing materials (dry wastes) for good composting. Leaf litter, paddy straw and bagasse decompose to the tune of 90, 68 and 60% VS and are suitable for composting micro-treatment. Paper fractions even when augmented with 10% leaf compost failed to show appreciable decomposition in 50 days. All these feedstocks were found to have good biological methane potential (BMP) and showed promise for conversion to biogas under a mixed feed operation. Suitability of this approach was verified by operating a plug-flow type anaerobic digester where only leaf litter gathered nearby (as street sweepings) was used as feedstock. Here only a third of the BMP was realized at this scale (0.18 m3 biogas/kg VS 0.55 m3/kg in BMP). We conclude that anaerobic digestion in plug-flow like digesters appear a more suitable micro-treatment option (2–10 kg VS/day) because in addition to compost it also produces biogas for domestic use nearby.
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