Environmental Science, Policy & Engineering Program (ESPE)

Spring 2022

Waste Management and Recycling


Professor Dr. Ashraf Ghaly, P.E.
Department Engineering
Office Olin 102D
Tel., email 518-388-6515, ghalya@union.edu

Lectures: TTH 9:00 AM - 10:45 AM, Wold-028. Lab TH 1:55 - 4:45 PM, Wold-028.

Office hours: immediately after class or request an appointment.


Introduction to various sources of hazardous, non-hazardous, biodegradable, and non-biodegradable waste materials. Focus areas are landfill systems, geosynthetics, geotextiles, geomembranes, geonets, single clay liner, single geomembrane liner, composite liner systems, leak detection and leachate collection, removal and treatment of leachate, and capping and closure systems. The recycling segment will explore natural resources of raw materials including origin and use, and potential and limitation for recycling of materials. Focus on various applications of recycling recyclable and non-recyclable materials. Discussion of methods of manufacture and compositions of such materials will concentrate on advanced industrial applications for the reuse of non-recyclable waste materials. Application areas include production of new materials, materials with superior qualities for special purposes, and materials with high level of resistance against certain environmental conditions. The course will also touch on the political aspect of recycling including consumer attitude and government incentives to encourage recycling. Three class hours and a weekly lab, WAC credit. Prerequisite ENS100 (Introduction to Environmental Studies) or GEO102 (Environmental Geology).


90+ = A 85+ = A- 80+ = B+ 75+ = B 70+ = B- 65+ = C+ 60+ = C 55+ = C- 50+ = D



Worrell, W., and Vesilind, P.A. (2017). "Solid Waste Engineering: A Global Perspective" 3rd Edition, Cengage Learning, ISBN 1305635205.



  • Solid waste in history
  • Economics and solid waste
  • Legislation and regulations
  • Materials flow
  • Reduction
  • Reuse
  • Recycling
  • Recovery
  • Disposal of solid waste in landfills
  • Energy conversion
  • The need for integrated solid waste management
  • Special wastes


  • Definitions
  • Municipal solid waste generation
  • Municipal solid waste characteristics
  • Composition by identifiable items
  • Moisture content
  • Particle size
  • Chemical composition
  • Heat value
  • Bulk and material density
  • Mechanical properties
  • Biodegradability
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Toxicity
  • Measuring particle size


  • Refuse collection systems
  • Phase 1: house to can
  • Phase 2: can to truck
  • Phase 3: truck from house to house
  • Phase 4: truck routing
  • Phase 5: truck to disposal
  • Commercial wastes
  • Transfer stations
  • Collection of recyclable materials
  • Litter and street cleanliness
  • Design of collection systems
  • Potential solutions to the problem of littering


  • Refuse physical characteristics
  • Storing MSW
  • Conveying
  • Compacting
  • Shredding
  • Use of shredders in solid waste processing
  • Types of shredders used for solid waste processing
  • Describing shredder performance by changes in particle size distribution
  • Power requirements of shredders
  • Health and safety
  • Hammer wear and maintenance
  • Shredder design
  • Pulping
  • Roll crushing
  • Granulating
  • The pi breakage theorem


  • General expressions for materials separation
  • Binary separators
  • Polynary separators
  • Effectiveness of separation
  • Picking (hand sorting)
  • Screens
  • Trommel screens
  • Reciprocating and disc screens
  • Float/sink separators
  • Theory of operation
  • Jigs
  • Air classifiers
  • Other float/sink devices
  • Magnets and electromechanical separators
  • Magnets
  • Eddy current separators
  • Electrostatic separation processes
  • Other devices for materials separation
  • Materials separation systems
  • Performance of materials recovery facilities


  • Methane generation by anaerobic digestion
  • Anaerobic decomposition in mixed digesters
  • Potential for application of anaerobic digesters
  • Methane extraction from landfills
  • Potential for the application of methane extraction from landfills
  • Composting
  • Fundamentals of composting
  • Composting municipal solid waste


  • Heat value of refuse
  • Ultimate analysis
  • Compositional analysis
  • Proximate analysis
  • Calorimetry
  • Materials and thermal balances
  • Combustion air
  • Efficiency
  • Benefit/cost
  • Thermal balance on a waste-to-energy combustor
  • Combustion hardware used for MSW
  • Waste-to-energy combustors
  • Modular starved air combustors
  • Pyrolysis and gasification
  • Mass burn versus RDF
  • Undesirable effects of combustion
  • Waste heat
  • Air pollutants
  • Dioxin
  • Ash


  • Planning, siting, and permitting of landfills
  • Planning
  • Siting
  • Permitting
  • Landfill processes
  • Biological degradation
  • Leachate production
  • Gas production
  • Landfill design
  • Liners
  • Leachate collection, treatment, and disposal
  • Landfill gas collection and use
  • Geotechnical aspects of landfill design
  • Stormwater management
  • Landfill cap
  • Landfill operations
  • Landfill equipment
  • Filling sequences
  • Daily cover
  • Monitoring
  • Post-closure care and use of old landfills
  • Landfill mining


  • Life cycle analysis and management
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Life cycle management
  • Product stewardship
  • Integrated waste and life style management
  • Integrated resource management
  • Flow control
  • Public or private ownership and operation
  • Contracting for solid waste services
  • Financing solid waste facilities
  • Calculating annual cost
  • Calculating present worth
  • Calculating sinking funds
  • Calculating capital plus O&M costs
  • Comparing alternatives
  • Hazardous materials
  • Environmental justice
  • The role of the solid waste manager




The sites of field trips are selected to show the students a wide variety of facilities involved in waste management, recycling, treatment, and waste-to-energy production. These visits are intended to be educational and informative. To get the most out of these field trips, students are expected to document every visit in a site-visit report. Students are encouraged to ask tour guides questions, inquire about details of operation, learn about the advantages and disadvantages of shown processes, and seek explanation for how various functions work. The report should contain all technical and non-technical information related to the visited facility: name, location, function, capacity, operation, products, by-products, and any information deemed necessary for a comprehensive report. In addition to written text, students may include in their reports tables, graphs, charts, figures, and site photos.

The lab sessions that will be conducted in the college lab are designed to study some of the specifications of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) related to waste materials and containment systems. The lab report should include a cover page with the name of the student(s), course and standard specification titles, and date. The report itself shall contain the objective of the standard and procedure. The report should emphasize the technical aspect of the standard. Emphasis of grading will be placed on the technical content of the report as well as clarity, creativity, and correctness of writing.



Come Clean is a research-based paper with focus on waste management systems and recycling techniques. The goal in this paper is to research in depth one of the subjects listed below. Students can also research a subject not listed below but the instructor's approval is required in this case. Students may survey case studies that document effective and economical methods of waste containment as well as successful projects of recycling that resulted in a reduction in waste that goes into landfill. The paper may also offer a study of environmental compliance of a site with the standard specifications of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM, see specifications cited below) and/or the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Suggested Topics

  • Acid Rain
  • Agriculture waste
  • Asbestos
  • Ash (waste of waste)
  • Brownfields
  • Carbon emissions
  • Chemical and biochemical treatment
  • Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act
  • Cleanup
  • Composting and biological treatment
  • Construction and demolition wastes
  • Containment systems
  • Energy recovery and thermal treatment
  • Environmental impacts
  • Facility siting and transfer stations
  • Final landfill post-closure use
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Hazardous (nuclear/radioactive) waste
  • Household hazardous (electronic/lead/mercury/cadmium) waste
  • Incinerators
  • Industrial waste
  • Integrated waste management
  • Landfills
  • Liners, caps, gas, and leachate
  • Medical waste
  • Metal recovery
  • Mining and mineral waste
  • Municipal waste
  • Ozone depletion
  • Paper and pulp
  • Pesticides
  • Recycling
  • Recycling of waste in new materials
  • Risk Assessment
  • Scrap tires
  • Environmental site assessment
  • Settlement of landfills
  • Sludge
  • Solid waste dust
  • Superfund
  • Toxins and dioxins
  • Waste collection
  • Waste composition
  • Waste generation
  • Waste reduction
  • Waste to energy
  • Wetland


Paper Subject



On the Saturday that precedes the tenth week of the term, the final electronic paper of the project is due. There is no minimum or maximum limit for papers. Students may wish to supplement their paper with proper photos, pictures, tables, graphs, charts, and figures. Any supplementing materials must be referenced at least once in the text of the paper.

Grading Criteria

Students taking this course will receive Engineering/Technology/Society (ETS) credit. Classroom presentations and discussion will promote critical thinking to enable students to evaluate evidence, results, and claims related to the natural sciences/engineering/technology and their impact on broader human or societal issues. In their written paper and in their oral presentation, students are expected to highlight and detail principles similar to those listed above. The grade in this term paper will be assigned based on the quality and depth of thought, organization, and relevance of content to the subject under consideration, understanding, clarity of presentation, and demonstration of ability to address questions with comprehension.


Standard American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Specifications

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