Codisposal of Garbage and Sewage Sludge--A Promising Solution to Two Problems

CED-79-59: Published: May 16, 1979. Publicly Released: May 16, 1979.

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The process of using thermal techniques in the codisposal of sewage sludge and municipal garbage was examined in order to determine why the implementation of codisposal has been limited. Codisposal is the integrated processing of garbage and sewage sludge through burning in which garbage is used as a fuel in sludge drying. The volume of both wastes requiring ultimate disposal is greatly reduced. Two basic codisposal approaches exist: one uses garbage incineration equipment, while the other uses the combustible portion of processed garbage as the auxiliary fuel source in sludge incinerators. Coincineration in garbage burning incinerators appears to be the most developed of the technologies.

Numerous factors have limited codisposal development, including early technological failures and the availability of less costly disposal methods. By the mid-1970's, only a handful of facilities were operating. A restrictive federal funding policy and institutional barriers have also hindered implementation. Codisposal requires a major capital investment; therefore, the availability of federal construction money can strongly influence whether or not codisposal will be implemented. Institutional barriers have limited codisposal development because sludge and garbage are often disposed of by different governmental departments or political subdivisions. A similar lack of coordination exists to some extent within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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