A wide range of waste characterization methods are available, each developed for a specific purpose such as determining compost stability, or for landfill acceptance criteria. Here test methods have been evaluated for the purpose of assessing waste treatment process performance and monitoring the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) from landfill. The suitability factors include the timescale of the method, applicability to a wide range of materials and ability to indicate the long-term biodegradability of organic waste samples. The anaerobic test methods, whilst producing reliable results, take at least several weeks to complete, therefore not allowing for regular routine analysis often required for diversion assessments. Short-term tests are required which can correlate with, and therefore estimate, values obtained from long-term anaerobic methods. Aerobic test methods were found to offer a significantly improved timescale compared with anaerobic test methods; however they have limitations due to not measuring the full extent of sample biodegradability. No single test method was found to be completely sufficient for routine biodegradability analysis suitable for monitoring the BMW diversion from landfill. Potential areas for further research include spectrographic FT-IR or enzyme-based approaches such as the ECD or EHT methods
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