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WMR0010.1177/0734242X16649684Waste Management & ResearchPetrovic

Mini-review Article

Waste Management & Research

Mini-review of the geotechnical

© The Author(s) 2016
Reprints and permissions:
parameters of municipal solid waste:
DOI: 10.1177/0734242X16649684

Mechanical and biological pre-treated

versus raw untreated waste

Igor Petrovic

The most viable option for biostabilisation of old sanitary landfills, filled with raw municipal solid waste, is the so-called bioreactor
landfill. Even today, bioreactor landfills are viable options in many economically developing countries. However, in order to reduce
the biodegradable component of landfilled waste, mechanical and biological treatment has become a widely accepted waste treatment
technology, especially in more prosperous countries. Given that mechanical and biological treatment alters the geotechnical properties
of raw waste material, the design of sanitary landfills which accepts mechanically and biologically treated waste, should be carried out
with a distinct set of geotechnical parameters. However, under the assumption that ‘waste is waste’, some design engineers might be
tempted to use geotechnical parameters of untreated raw municipal solid waste and mechanical and biological pre-treated municipal
solid waste interchangeably. Therefore, to provide guidelines for use and to provide an aggregated source of this information, this
mini-review provides comparisons of geotechnical parameters of mechanical and biological pre-treated waste and raw untreated
waste at various decomposition stages. This comparison reveals reasonable correlations between the hydraulic conductivity values of
untreated and mechanical and biological pre-treated municipal solid waste. It is recognised that particle size might have a significant
influence on the hydraulic conductivity of both municipal solid waste types. However, the compression ratios and shear strengths
of untreated and pre-treated municipal solid waste do not show such strong correlations. Furthermore, another emerging topic that
requires appropriate attention is the recovery of resources that are embedded in old landfills. Therefore, the presented results provide
a valuable tool for engineers designing landfills for mechanical and biological pre-treated waste or bioreactor landfills for untreated
raw waste as well as planning landfill mining projects.

Degree of decomposition, geotechnical properties, mechanically and biologically treated waste, municipal solid waste, sanitary

With increasing awareness of environmental protection, various – landfill mining – has received increased attention in the most
municipal solid waste (MSW) pre- and post-treatment techniques developed countries.
have been developed. Their mutual goal is to reduce the impact One of the widely accepted pre-treatment methods is the
and amount of disposed waste to the environment. mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) process. During
Of the widely accepted post-treatment techniques for older mechanical treatment, coarser waste particles are screened out or
sanitary landfills filled with raw untreated MSW, the most viable shredded into smaller pieces. Further size reduction and a change
option is the so-called bioreactor landfill. A bioreactor landfill of the waste structure are mainly achieved with subsequent bio-
operates in a manner to minimise environmental impact and opti- logical treatment. As a consequence, the mechanical and biological
mise waste decomposition through intensive leachate recircula- (MB)-pre-treated waste usually has a finer and more homogenous
tion (Reinhart and Townsend, 1998). Moreover, another emerging particle distribution compared with raw untreated waste material.
post-treatment technique of old sanitary landfills is landfill min-
ing (Greedy, 2016). The proper design of both bioreactor landfills
Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering, University of Zagreb, Varazdin,
and landfill mines requires proper knowledge about the geotech- Croatia
nical parameters of raw untreated waste material at various
decomposition stages. While bioreactor landfills are currently the Corresponding author:
Igor Petrovic, Faculty of Geotechnical Engineering, University of
most viable option only in economically developing countries, Zagreb, Hallerova aleja 7, 42000 Varazdin, Croatia.
the recovery of resources that are embedded in old landfills Email:

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2 Waste Management & Research

Regardless of whether landfilled MSW has been pre-treated With respect to aerobic treatment, there are two distinctive
or is going to be post-treated, the main objective of proper land- treatment processes: composting and biodrying. Biodrying
fill design is the assurance of pertinent functioning of all landfill usually occurs immediately after the biodegradable organic
components, not just within the operational period, but also in the components have been mechanically separated in order to pre-
post-closure period. Improper landfill design could lead to the serve its calorific value. After drying, subsequent mechanical
loss of the integrity of lining systems and subsequently to the loss treatment processes permit the production of high-calorie
of overall landfill stability, which would present a significant fuel. As opposed to biodrying, composting usually takes place
environmental hazard. only after mechanical treatment is completed. The composting
From the perspective of civil engineering, sanitary MBT/bio- process leads to the complete decomposition of easily degra-
reactor/mine landfills can be viewed as artificial embankments dable organic matter. Ultimately, regardless of the specific
and slopes where the main building block is MSW. As both types MBT process used, a remaining non-recyclable waste stream
of waste materials – pre- and post-treated – are strongly hetero- has to be landfilled.
geneous in nature, establishing the appropriate design parameters
of distinct waste material can be a demanding task. Consequently, Operating principles of bioreactor
by assuming that ‘waste is waste’, one might be tempted to treat landfills
the mechanical parameters of pre- and post-treated MSW inter-
changeably. By following the mentioned assumption, the risk of Bioreactor landfill technology involves injecting leachate into
disregarding fuzziness in the mechanical properties of the pre- the waste mass to accelerate or enhance the anaerobic biodegra-
and post-treated MSW is significant. dation of raw untreated MSW. There are two main operating con-
Therefore, the examination and critical estimation of the ditions that must be maintained:
geotechnical properties of waste material, by taking into con-
•• the moisture content must be held at field capacity, and
sideration the type of structure that has to be built (MBT/bio-
•• the pH must remain nearly neutral.
reactor/mine), are of substantial importance to a qualified
design process.
As opposed to dry-tomb landfills, bioreactor landfills offer a
The geotechnical parameters of MB pre-treated MSW were
sustainable way to achieve higher rates of MSW decomposition
examined by Ziehmann (1999), Bidlingmaier et al. (1999),
and faster reduction of leachate and landfill gas pollution poten-
Duellmann (2002), Kuehle-Weidemeier and Doedens (2003),
tial. In parallel, the decomposition of organic waste matter
Carrubba and Cossu (2003), Boni et al. (2006), Bauer et al.
changes the composition of the solids matrix of MSW. With the
(2006, 2007), Entenmann and Wendt (2007), Olivier and Gourc
drastic changes in solids composition and increased moisture
(2007), and more recently by Bhandari and Powrie (2012),
content, the mechanical behaviour of bioreactor MSW is going to
Siddiqui et al. (2012, 2013a, 2013b), Pimolthai and Wagner
change as decomposition continues.
(2014) and Sivakumar Babu et al. (2015).
The generally accepted decomposition stages that leachate
According to Reddy et al. (2011), very few studies focused
undergoes in a bioreactor landfill were defined by Pohland and
on geotechnical parameters of raw untreated MSW at various
Harper (1986). These stages are as follows.
degrees of decomposition (DOD): e.g. Kavazanjian (2001),
Kavazanjian et al. (2001), Hossain (2002), Hossain et al. (2009),
Stage 1: Initial adjustment or aerobic phase. Moisture is added
Hossain and Haque (2009), Dixon and Langer (2006), Gabr
and the waste supports an active microbial community. This
et al. (2007), Bray et al. (2009), Reddy et al. (2009a, 2009b,
phase continues for a very short period of time, and mainly nitro-
2011) and more recently by Reddy et al. (2015) and
gen and carbon dioxide are produced during this phase. Methane
Lakshmikanthan et al. (2015).
production is not observed in this stage.

Stage 2: Transition phase. All the oxygen is consumed by the

Operating principles of MBT processes
bacteria, and production of carbon dioxide takes place. Both
Various mechanical treatment processes have been designed in chemical oxygen demand (COD) and total volatile acids (TVA)
order to separate different waste streams prior to biological appear in the leachate.
treatment. Some steps included in mechanical treatment are
Stage 3: Acid formation phase. Acid-forming bacteria convert
hand sorting, screening, shredding, ballistic separation and
these molecules into short chain carboxylic acids, alcohols, car-
magnetic separation. The first treatment step is commonly
bon dioxide and hydrogen. This results in a lower pH. Both COD
based on a mechanical separation of biodegradable organic
and TVA in the leachate are maximised.
components and recyclable materials, such as plastic, metals,
glass, paper and cardboard. In this step, a stream of mainly bio- Stage 4: Methane fermentation phase. Acids are consumed and
degradable organic matter, along with small inert material that converted into methane and carbon dioxide. Heavy metals are
cannot be separated, is obtained. After mechanical treatment, removed from the leachate by complexation and precipitated
aerobic or anaerobic biological treatment takes place. onto the remaining solids.

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Petrovic 3

Figure 1.  Particle size distribution curves for MB treated MSW and raw MSW.

Stage 5: Final or maturation phase. Biological activity diminishes 2014). The particle size distribution curves for MB pre-treated
along with diminished gas production. Leachate strength is at MSW presented in Figure 1 were established from two (denoted
much lower concentrations than in all previous stages. However, as A and B) air dried samples with residual moisture contents of
the concentrations of CH4 and CO2 in Stages 4 and 5 remain 7% in accordance with the Croatian standard testing procedure
approximately the same. HRN.U.B1.018 (1980). As can be seen from Figure 1, the mass
content of particles larger than 20 mm in samples A and B are 3%
Scope of article and 7%, respectively.
Research on synthetic and real raw untreated waste conducted
In this work, a mini-review of the geotechnical parameters (i.e. by Reddy et al. (2011, 2015) revealed that particle refinement of
hydraulic conductivity, consolidation coefficient, oedometric raw untreated waste material caused by the decomposition pro-
modulus, compression indices, cohesion, shear friction angle and cess also takes place (Figure 1). The decomposition phases of
tension angle) of MB pre-treated MSW and raw untreated MSW synthetic waste are identified as fresh (FS), anaerobic acid (S1;
at known decomposition stages are presented and compared. DOD = 50%), accelerated methane (S2; DOD = 53%), deceler-
Furthermore, the influence of biodegradation on particle size is ated methane (S3; DOD = 70%) and methane stabilisation (S4;
also discussed. DOD = 86%). The decomposition phases of real waste (collected
from the working phase of Orchard Hills Landfill) are identified
Categorical evaluation as the initial stage (FR), stage R1 (DOD = 43%), stage R2 (DOD
= 45%), stage R3 (DOD = 53%), stage R4 (DOD = 56%) and
Influence of biodegradation on particle stage R5 (DOD = 73%). Figure 1 reveals that the particle size of
size distribution synthetic raw untreated MSW continuously decreases as decom-
Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007) argues that the granulometry of MB position occurs. The particle size of real raw untreated MSW also
pre-treated waste material is mainly affected by the mechanical decreased as decomposition continued, during which the percent-
treatment process because large/coarse waste components were age of particles smaller than 10 mm in the highly decomposed
removed by sieving or reduced to smaller pieces by shredding. sample (R5) doubled with respect to the initial stage.
He also recognises that the influence of biological treatment on Although the particle size distribution curves indicate that
the particle size distribution, in contrary to the mechanical treat- fresh synthetic raw MSW (FS), was a gap-graded material, those
ment, is negligible. The exception is for fractions less than 20 mm gaps clearly diminished during the decomposition process.
where clear refinement of particles owing to biological treatment Furthermore, with respect to the considered MB pre-treated
can be noticed. Furthermore, he also found that, with respect to MSW and synthetic raw untreated MSW, Figure 1 also reveals
the mass content, the fraction of particles in the range of 0–20 mm that the examined real raw untreated MSW is coarser and more
prevails, followed by the fraction of particle in the range of 20– uniformly graded. However, the transition from poorly graded to
40 mm, and the fraction of particles larger than 40 mm represents well-graded, as in the case of synthetic raw untreated MSW, was
only a small share of the mass content of the MBT-output. not observed. By taking into consideration the mentioned fea-
A similar distribution of mass content in MB pre-treated waste tures, it can be anticipated that the real raw untreated MSW tested
was also confirmed by the author’s research (Petrovic et al., by Reddy et al. (2015), being coarser and more uniformly graded,

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4 Waste Management & Research

is going to be more permeable and compressible than MB pre- average hydraulic conductivity value of MB pre-treated MSW
treated and/or synthetic raw untreated MSW. (0–60 mm fraction) is at least one order of magnitude higher
than those of fresh synthetic MSW, suggesting no relevant com-
Hydraulic conductivity parison. Moreover, the average hydraulic conductivity value of
anaerobically pre-treated MSW (0–30 mm fraction) is similar to
In general, the hydraulic conductivity of any porous media is pri- that of slightly decomposed synthetic raw untreated MSW.
marily a function of the interconnected void space. Reddy et al. However, a correlation between the D60 value and hydraulic
(2009a) examined raw untreated MSW for the dependency of conductivity values for real raw untreated MSW at various
hydraulic conductivity on particle size distribution. They have DOD (Reddy et al., 2015) could not be established.
found that at comparable dry unit weight, the hydraulic conduc- Table 2 summarises hydraulic conductivity values from vari-
tivity obtained for decomposed waste was slightly lower than ous literature and the average hydraulic conductivity values of
that of fresh waste material, which can be attributed to the differ- raw untreated MSW over various DOD. Figure 2 indicates that
ence in their particle-size distribution caused by biodegradation. these values coincide reasonably well with the mean hydraulic
Furthermore, they argued that larger effective size (i.e. diameter conductivity value obtained from the 0–25 mm to 0–40 mm MB
for 10% passing) provides an indication of higher conductivity pre-treated MSW fraction range.
values for raw untreated MSW with fewer small particles. In
addition, the authors demonstrated that tests conducted by
Penmethsa (2007) also confirm the dependency of hydraulic con-
ductivity on the particle size distribution of MSW. These results Analogous to soils, waste settlement is usually divided into
were reconfirmed by Reddy et al. (2011, 2015) for synthetic and three distinguished stages. The first stage corresponds to the
real raw untreated MSW samples at various decomposition immediate waste settlement as a consequence of compression
stages. The obtained results for both types of material show a or expulsion of gas and/or particles. The second stage is
clear dependency between hydraulic conductivity and DOD, and known as the consolidation stage, which is driven by the time-
correspondingly on the increased number of smaller particles dependent process of dissipation of excess pore pressures. The
caused by decomposition. third stage is secondary settlement, which in the case of waste
In contrast, Powrie and Beaven (1999) established that the materials is the aggregate of mechanical creep and additional
hydraulic conductivity resulting from particle size reduction and settlement caused by biodegradation.
waste decomposition are essentially second order, but appear to Siddiqui et al. (2013a) conducted a comprehensive analysis of
be more significant at higher vertical effective stresses. What MB pre-treated waste settlement and critically investigated all
they found to be more important is a single correlation between three stages. They tested MB pre-treated waste samples taken
vertical hydraulic conductivity and vertical effective stress in ini- from two different MBT facilities. One sample, with the largest
tial loading. This correlation has been confirmed by various stud- particle size of approximately 60 mm, was taken from an MBT
ies: for raw bioreactor MSW at various DOD by Reddy et al. facility in Germany (GER), whereas the second one, with the
(2011, 2015), for MB pre-treated waste by Petrovic et al. (2011) largest particle size of approximately 20 mm, was taken from an
and for raw untreated MSW by Gavelitė et al. (2015). MBT treatment facility in England (E).
Considering that hydraulic conductivity is dependent on the With respect to immediate compression, they have found
particle size of MSW, Table 1 presents the average hydraulic con- that immediate compression of finer MB pre-treated waste
ductivity values obtained for various fractions of MB pre-treated material (E) was in the range from 18% to 20%; whereas for the
MSW. Furthermore, Figure 2 shows the average hydraulic con- coarser MB pre-treated waste material (GER), the immediate
ductivity values of MB pre-treated MSW and synthetic raw settlement was between 21% and 23%. In contrast, Hossain
untreated MSW at various decomposition stages in relation to et al. (2009) found that initial compression settlement of biore-
grain diameter at 60% passing (D60). The grain diameter at 60% actor waste material at various DOD is more pronounced for
passing (D60) for synthetic raw untreated waste was obtained finer material (7%–15%) than for coarser material. The
from Figure 1 (Reddy et al., 2011); in contrast, the appropriate observed trend remained consistent, even at different cell sizes
D60 values for different fractions of MB pre-treated MSW were and various decomposition stages.
obtained from Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007). It is anticipated that the majority of immediate waste settle-
Figure 2 and Table 1 reveal that the hydraulic conductivity ment occurs during the emplacement period, and therefore does
of MB pre-treated MSW and raw untreated waste at various not significantly alter the total amount of settlement throughout
DOD directly correlates to their fraction size. As can be seen in time; therefore, it will not be discussed any further.
Figure 2, the average hydraulic conductivity value of MB pre- Regarding the primary compression (consolidation) stage,
treated MSW (0–40 mm fraction) is similar to those of slightly Siddiqui et al. (2013a) suggested that one-dimensional consoli-
decomposed synthetic or raw untreated MSW, whereas the dation theory could provide a suitable framework for analysing
average hydraulic conductivity value of MB pre-treated MSW the settlement of saturated MB pre-treated waste. In this context
(0–25 mm fraction) is similar to that of well-decomposed syn- they established consolidation coefficients cv of tested MBT
thetic raw untreated MSW. Figure 2 also reveals that the waste samples at vertical stress of 50 kPa. For the coarser MB

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Petrovic 5

Table 1.  Hydraulic conductivity values (cm s−1) of MB pre-treated MSW.

Reference 0–25 mm; aerobic 0–40 mm; aerobic 0–60 mm; aerobic 0–30 mm; anaerobic
Petrovic et al. (2011) 7.40×10−06  
Kuehle-Weidemier 7.80×10−06 6.50×10−04 6.20×10−04  
and Doedens (2003) 3.70×10−07 3.60×10−04 5.20×10−03  
2.30×10−08 7.00×10−08 1.80×10−06  
Heiss-Ziegler and 7.80×10−09 1.10×10−05  
Fehrer (2003) 1.80×10−08 3.10×10−06  
8.20×10−09 2.40×10−08  
Kuehle-Weidemier 1.50×10−07  
et al. (2000)   2.00×10−08  
Friedrich and 7.88×10−06 6.73×10−04 1.45 × 100 1.06×10−05a
Weichgrebe (2007) 3.69×10−07 3.74×10−04 2.81×10−01 6.39×10−06a
2.41×10−08 4.24×10−04 4.96×10−03 4.03×10−06a
  8.18×10−07 1.37×10−01 2.24×10−06a
  5.35×10−8 5.35×10−04 1.88×10−07a
  7.49×10−8 3.82×10−04 1.00×10−07a
  1.79×10−04 1.59×10−07a
  3.48×10−05 2.75×10−07a
  1.69×10−06 2.87×10−07a
  6.42×10−07 3.39×10−07a
Ziehman et al. 7.42×10−06 4.53×10−06 3.76×10−06
(2003)   8.31×10−06 8.94×10−06 7.35×10−05
  2.60×10−06 8.50×10−06 6.03×10−05
  9.20×10−04 4.35×10−06 1.26×10−05
  8.57×10−04 8.50×10−05 6.61×10−04
  8.57×10−04 7.35×10−05 5.37×10−04
  1.04×10−03 2.41×10−05  
  1.05×10−03 1.53×10−05  
Felske et al. (2003) 1.10×10−03  
Average 1.38×10−06 5.48×10−04 1.61×10−02 2.31×10−04
Average (0–25 mm 2.75×10−05  
to 0–40 mm)
aFull stream digestion.
bPartial stream digestion.

pre-treated waste material (GER) they obtained a consolidation et al. (2011) obtained a consolidation coefficient cv for MB pre-
coefficient cv of 6.45 × 10−7 m2 s−1 (at k = 3.46 × 10−5 ms−1); treated waste taken from an Austrian MBT plant (0–40 mm frac-
whereas for the finer MB pre-treated waste material (E), they tion) of approximately 2.33 × 10−6 m2 s−1 (at k = 4 × 10−8 ms−1).
obtained a consolidation coefficient cv of 7.89 × 10−7 m2 s−1 (at From the data by Siddiqui et al. (2013a), it was possible to
k = 3.85 × 10−5 ms−1). For the same vertical stress level, Petrovic recalculate the oedometric modulus of tested MB pre-treated

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6 Waste Management & Research

Figure 2.  Correlation between average hydraulic conductivity values obtained for various fractions of MB pre-treated MSW and
hydraulic conductivity values of synthetic raw untreated MSW at various DOD with grain diameter at 60% passing (D60).
MBT: mechanical and biological treatment.

Table 2.  Hydraulic conductivity values collected from pre-treated waste caused by biodegradation is 3.2% for finer
published literature for raw untreated MSW. MB pre-treated waste material (E) and 1.7% for coarser MB
pre-treated waste material (GER). These observations are in
Reference Hydraulic conductivity (cms−1) at
various decomposition stages
good agreement with Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007) who pub-
lished that a maximum volume reduction of 4.5% owing to bio-
Beaven (2000) 1.51×10−02 – 3.47×10−06 degradation can be anticipated, whereas approximately 2%
Beaven and Powrie (1995) 1.00×10−02 – 1.00×10−05
volume reduction occurs in the post-closure period.
Blieker et al. (1993) 1.60×10−04 – 1.00×10−06
It should also be noted that secondary compression caused by
Blieker et al. (1995) 1.36×10−04 – 4.30×10−07
Brandl (1994) 2.00×10−03 – 3.00×10−06 biodegradation might be dependent on the type of applied bio
Ettala (1987) 2.50×10−05 – 5.90×10−07 treatment process, namely, composting, biodrying or anaerobic
Gabr and Valero (1995) 1.00×10−03 – 1.00×10−05 digestion. However, to the best knowledge of the author, this kind
Jain et al. (2006) 6.10×10−05 – 5.40×10−06 of data is not yet available.
Jang et al. (2002) 1.10×10−03 – 2.90×10−04 As for the compressibility of bioreactor raw waste material,
Jie et al. (2013) 1.77×10−03 – 3.10×10−08 a comprehensive analysis of primary and secondary compres-
Korfiatis et al. (1984) 5.00×10−03 – 3.00×10−03
sion on synthetic and real untreated MSW samples was con-
Landva and Clark (1986) 2.60×10−02 – 1.00×10−03
Landva et al. (1984) 7.00×10−03 – 6.00×10−07
ducted by Reddy et al. (2011, 2015). The final results are
Machado et al. (2010) 3.73×10−04 – 7.66×10−06 somewhat ambiguous as the results obtained for synthetic sam-
Oweis et al. (1990) 1.30×10−03 – 1.60×10−04 ples show that both the primary and secondary compression
Penmethsa (2007) 1.00×10−02 – 8.00×10−04 ratios decrease with decomposition, whereas results obtained
Powrie and Beaven (1999) 1.50×10−04 – 3.70×10−08 for real samples show that both the primary and secondary com-
Reddy et al. (2009a) 1.95×10−01 – 8.05×10−07 pression ratios increase with decomposition degree. As for the
Shank (1993) 9.80×10−04 – 6.70×10−05 distinction between mechanical creep and secondary settlement
Zhu et al. (2003) 2.00×10−04 – 4.00×10−03
caused by the decomposition process, the authors found, at least
Composite statistics: Range: 1.36×10−03 – 1.03×10−07
Mean: 1.19×10−05 for the real waste samples, that there was no significant decom-
position process effect over the period of testing considered. A
longer duration may be needed to assess the contribution of
waste materials at a vertical stress of 50 kPa. The obtained biodegradation-induced compression.
oedometric modulus was approximately 0.2 kPa for both sam- In addition, the literature review (Table 4) shows that some
ples. Interestingly, the obtained values significantly differ from researchers (e.g. Chen et al., 2009; Karimpour-Fard and
the stiffness modulus of MB pre-treated waste material (at the Machado, 2011) reported that less decomposed material is more
same stress level) published by various researchers, as is sum- compressible; whereas other researchers (e.g. Hossain, 2002)
marised in Table 3. The reasons for such a large discrepancy reported that the compressibility of raw untreated waste
remain unclear. increases as decomposition occurs. Therefore, it remains
With respect to secondary compression, Siddiqui et al. unclear whether the compression ratio of raw untreated MSW
(2012) have shown that the total settlement strain of MB rises or falls with decomposition.

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Petrovic 7

Table 3.  Oedometric moduli published by other researchers.

Load increment 0–50 25–50 Fraction

Reference (kPa) (kPa) (mm)

Duellmann (2002) / 730 0–30
Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007) / 840 0–20
  / 800 0–20
  / 1070 0–40
  / 500 0–40
  / 940 0–60
  / 600 0–60
Bidlingmaier et al. (1999) 355 / <60
  239 / <100
Petrovic et al. (2014) 566 / 0–40
  657 / 0–40
  686 / 0–40
  610 / 0–40
  694 / 0–40

Furthermore, Table 4 also shows a comparison of the com- particle size of less than 10 mm, also exhibit a reinforcing effect at
pressibility ratios ( Cc’ = Cc / 1 + e0 ) of bioreactor and MB pre- confining pressures larger than 100 kPa and axial strains in excess
treated waste material, where Cc is the compression index and of approximately 1%.
e0 is the initial void ratio. In general, the results presented in More recently, Fucale et al. (2015) analysed the friction prop-
Table 4 suggest that the compressibility ratio of MB pre-treated erties of basic MB pre-treated matrix and tensile properties of
MSW (0–40 mm fraction) is significantly lower than that of raw two reinforced MB pre-treated matrices (10% and 20% fibre
untreated MSW at any decomposition stage, so it is less com- components). They found that the tensile strength depends on the
pressible. As for MB pre-treated MSW, the literature review did fibre content, as the compound matrix with fewer fibre compo-
not yield additional compression ratio values. nents continuously demonstrated a higher strength than the com-
pound matrix with more fibre components. The measured tensile
angle for matrices with fewer fibrous particles was ζ = 19°,
Shear strength
whereas for the matrix with more fibrous particles, the measured
The shear strength of granular materials is usually described tensile angle was ζ = 13°.
with two parameters: shear friction angle φ’ and cohesion c’. With respect to the shear strength parameters of MB pre-
In addition, Kölsch (1993) introduced a third shear strength treated MSW, Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007) reported that the fric-
parameter for raw fibrous waste – the tensile angle ζ. tion angles usually ranged between 32° and 38°, whereas the
According to Kölsch (1993, 1995), the total shearing resist- cohesion lay between 10 kPa and 62 kPa. Bauer et al. (2009)
ance is composed of the friction in the shear plane and the examined MB pre-treated MSW from three different treatment
tensile force in the fibres. Therefore, the total shearing resist- facilities and different treatment processes with maximum parti-
ance of waste, at an arbitrarily chosen normal stress, is higher cle sizes of 40 mm to 60 mm. In addition, they accounted for dif-
than the frictional resistance alone. ferent water contents and portions of fibrous components. They
Ziehmann (1999) investigated the influence of waste treatment found that the shear friction angle ranged between 28.1° and
(untreated, biologically treated, mechanically–biologically treated 39.8°, whereas cohesion ranged from 5 kPa to approximately
and mechanically–biologically treated <60 mm fraction) on the 47 kPa. Sivakumar Babu et al. (2015) conducted direct shear
shear and tensile strength of MB pre-treated waste material. He (DS) tests and small and large scale consolidated drained (CD)
found that cohesion is not affected by waste treatment, whereas and consolidated undrained (CU) triaxial tests on reconstituted
the biological treatment increased the shear angle by approxi- compost reject (MB pre-treated MSW) samples. They found that
mately 17%. Furthermore, it was shown that the tensile angle in the friction angles at 20% strain levels were 40°, 55° and 33°
the sieved fraction with particles smaller than 60 mm cannot be from the DS, CU and CD tests, respectively. There was a minor
detected. Therefore, according to Ziehmann (1999), the shear variation in cohesion values (0–10 kPa).
strength of MB pre-treated waste can only be described by its Thorough examination of the shear strength properties of bio-
shear parameters. These observations were also confirmed by reactor waste at various DOD were conducted by Reddy et al.
Heiss-Ziegler and Fehrer (2003), who found that the tensile (2011, 2015) and Gabr et al. (2007). However, the mentioned
strength in MB pre-treated material becomes more noticeable at authors did not address the tensile angle of bioreactor waste
fraction sizes of above 80 mm. However, Bhandari and Powrie material. The DS tests conducted on synthetic raw untreated
(2012) found that MB pre-treated waste samples with a maximum waste samples by Reddy et al. (2011) showed a general

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8 Waste Management & Research

Table 4.  Compression ratios for MB pre-treated MSW and raw untreated MSW.

Reference MSW type Specimen Cc’

Petrovic et al. (2014) MBT C 0.15
E 0.13
average 0.14
Reddy et al. (2011) Raw (synthetic) FS 0.35
S1 0.27
S2 0.26
S3 0.21
S4 0.15
average 0.25
Reddy et al. (2015) Raw (real) FR 0.24
R1 0.28
R2 0.32
R3 0.27
R4 0.30
R5 0.30
average 0.29
Gabr and Valero (1995) Raw waste; 15–30 years old / 0.15–0.22
Karimpour-Fard and Machado (2011) Raw waste; 4 years old / 0.209
Raw waste; fresh / 0.361
Raw waste; fresh / 0.285
Raw waste / 0.333
Landva et al. (1984) Raw old waste / 0.2–0.5
Chen et al. (2009) e0 = 0.5–2.0; fill age (years) 0.5–11 / 0.2–0.12
e0 = 2.0–4.2; fill age (years) 0.5–11 0.27–0.18

MBT: mechanical and biological treatment; MSW: municipal solid waste.

decreasing trend for the shear friction angle with decomposition Babu et al. (2015), is also presented in Figure 3. Sivakumar Babu
and an increasing trend for cohesion. The DS tests conducted on et al. (2015) obtained a wide range of possible shear friction val-
real raw untreated waste samples by Reddy et al. (2015) also ues, whereas cohesion lies in a very narrow range. These results
showed a general decreasing trend for the shear friction angle contradict findings published by Kuehle-Weidemeier (2007) and
with decomposition, whereas cohesion, although not constant, Bauer et al. (2009).
showed no consistent trend. These findings are in good agree-
ment with previous finding from Hossain (2002), who also
showed that the shear friction angle decreases with age. However,
these results contradict the ageing effect reported by Zhan et al. Owing to the strong heterogeneity of waste material that has to be
(2008) and van Impe (1998), who claims that the shear strength mined or landfilled, landfill design/design of a landfill mining
of raw untreated waste material increases with age. project is a demanding task. The inhomogeneous nature of MSW
Figure 3 presents comparisons of the shear strengths of MB requires that laboratory testing of such materials be conducted on
pre-treated and bioreactor waste materials. In addition, Figure 3 non-standard laboratory equipment that is capable of dealing with
also presents a boundary curve with a 90% probability of con- large waste specimens. In comparison with standard geotechnical
taining the shear strengths of raw untreated MSW (Petrovic et al., equipment, such devices are usually not easily available. Thus, it
2015). As can be seen from Figure 3, the shear strengths of syn- is not uncommon that, for the purpose of designing sanitary land-
thetic and real raw untreated MSW (Reddy et al., 2011, 2015) are fills, the mechanical parameters of waste material are estimated
dispersed across a wider area, whereas the shear strengths of MB based on data published in literature rather than from measure-
pre-treated MSW show a much narrower region of appropriate ments. With respect to the mentioned obstacles, the presented
shear friction angle values. Therefore, even though the shear aggregation of results is a valuable tool for designing landfills/
strengths of MB pre-treated MSW is deeply rooted within the landfill mining projects involving MB pre-treated or raw untreated
boundary curve of raw untreated MSW, a specific relationship MSW in scenarios when laboratory testing is not a viable option.
between the shear strength of MB pre-treated MSW and raw The obtained results suggest that MB pre-treated MSW is a
untreated MSW at various DOD cannot be established. The gen- substantially stiffer material than raw untreated MSW.
eral trend line of the variation of cohesion and friction angle of Additionally, it seems that one-dimensional consolidation the-
MB pre-treated MSW, with respect to the miscellaneous testing ory can provide a suitable framework for analysing the consoli-
devices and multiple test conditions published by Sivakumar dation process of a saturated MB pre-treated waste. However,

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Petrovic 9

Figure 3.  DS strength of MB pre-treated MSW and raw untreated MSW.

MBT: mechanical and biological treatment.

for MB pre-treated waste, only two researchers have published Funding

data about the consolidation coefficient cv. Therefore, in order to The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
provide a better understanding of the consolidation process of the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work
MB pre-treated waste, additional research is necessary. was supported by the University of Zagreb [grant number TP106].
Moreover, in practice it is assumed that the hydraulic conductiv-
ity and oedometric modulus are constants, which also makes the References
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