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Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Manual - Brazil

Integrated Municipal Solid Waste Management Manual - Brazil

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Published by Glenn Schatz

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Published by: Glenn Schatz on Dec 08, 2010
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The only final disposal process for this type of waste in the ground is the septic

trench, a method that is very much questioned by most professionals but, due to its

low investment and operational costs, is a viable option for cities with budgetary


Conceptually a septic trench is in reality a Class II industrial landfill, as described in

13.8.1, which involves the daily covering of waste and obligatory waterproofing but no

leachate collection.

There are two types of septic trench: individual ones such as may be used by large

hospitals and ones that are annexed to a municipal sanitary landfill.

In the first type, trenches should be excavated with dimensions appropriate for receiving

waste generated over a pre-determined period (a month, six months or a year). The

bottom and sides of the excavated trench are then waterproofed and waste begins to

be deposited there, the surfaces of which should be covered daily.

Top waterproofing should begin as soon as the volume of waste reaches its final

height and should progress at the same rate as the filling of the trench.

When the septic trench is annexed to a municipal landfill, a distinct plot should be

separated for medical waste disposal. This plot should be fenced and isolated from

the rest of the landfill.

13. Solid waste final disposal


Figure 141 - Septic trench installed in a sanitary landfill





Lateral slopes


3m to 4m





The procedures for waste disposal and waterproof layer installation are similar to

those previously described.


Sanitary landfills and carbon credits:
Opportunities to help resolve environmental problems

The environmental damage resulting from refuse dumps and irregular dumping always

causes significant problems for municipal administrations. The unpleasant appearance

and the bad odour that they emit discredit city administrations where waste is not

appropriately disposed of. From an environmental perspective dumps are a real calamity

as they contaminate the soil, the atmosphere, surface and underground water and

represent a potential source of epidemics and fires as well as being susceptible to


Many mayors have been held directly accountable by environmental bodies, auditing

tribunals and public prosecutors for poor urban cleaning management, especially in

relation to the final disposal of waste.

Attempting to resolve urban solid waste final disposal problems through the installation

of recycling or incineration plants is often not feasible as, in spite of spectacular

promotional offers by equipment manufacturers, they require significant financial

investment and their operation involves a high level of complexity, both of which are

beyond the capacity of municipalities that lack financial resources and specialized


The simplest and cheapest option for solving the problem of refuse dumps is

undoubtedly the installation of sanitary landfills, provided they are well built and correctly


operated. Sanitary landfills do not contaminate or emit unpleasant odours and after

their final closure they can be used for the construction of sports complexes or public


Refuse dumps can be eliminated either by transforming them into sanitary landfills or

by eradicating them altogether in an environmentally sound way, in which case they

should be replaced by a sanitary landfill elsewhere that will then receive the city’s

domestic waste. However such initiatives involve investment and operational costs

that in general are beyond municipalities’ financial means.

As a result of this situation the problem of solid waste disposal in Latin America is far

from being solved, as is revealed by PAHO reports on basic sanitary services (see chapter

1), according to which the percentage of cities that still have refuse dumps is very high.

One potentially positive economic factor being studied with increasing attention as a

solution to this problem is the exploitation of biogas naturally produced during organic

waste anaerobic decomposition processes, approximately 50%of which is methane.

This combustible gas can be used to fuel boilers, furnaces and vehicle internal

combustion engines or to generate electricity, with the additional advantage that its

producers will receive Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), as established in the Kyoto

Protocol the objective of which is to reduce the proportion of gases that provoke the

greenhouse effect in the earth’s atmosphere. The naturally occurring “greenhouse

effect” is a phenomenon of the Earth’s particular type of atmosphere that ensures

climatic conditions favourable for life as we know it.

This new opportunity is beginning to receive support from the World Bank and other

international development bodies, which are offering resources and information for

the installation of sanitary landfills with systems that recover and exploit “waste biogas”.

In this chapter we will try to clarify the question of carbon credits as the recovery and

use of biogas for fuel has already been dealt with in many technical publications.

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