Mechanical-biological treatment

Waste sorting facilitieClick to enlarge
Waste sorting facilities are indispensable for waste management
Source: azthesmudger / Fotolia.com

Mechanical-biological waste treatment facilities are a mainstay of sustainable and environmentally safe waste management in Germany. Mechanical-biological waste treatment – which is by no means a standalone waste disposal process – involves making sorted individual waste available for recycling or disposal.

The granting of permits for environmentally compatible mechanical-biological waste treatment facilities in Germany is governed by the Deponieverordnung and 30. BImSchV (Verordnung über Anlagen zur biologischen Behandlung von Abfällen) regulations.
There are two different mechanical-biological waste treatment methods. In the classic method, metallic waste and high heat value waste are separated for energy recovery purposes, leaving behind so called landfill waste, which after undergoing biological treatment (rotting or fermentation), is deposited at landfill sites – by which point the waste exhibits extremely low levels of residual biological activity.

The second method, known as stabilization, involves the production of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) (also known as Stabilat), which results in the disposal of little or no mineral landfill waste. RDF residues are readied for recycling by drying them biologically using RDF reaction heat. These dry residues are more readily recyclable for the production of RDF, iron, non-ferrous metal and so on.

In order to be used, both of these mechanical-biological processes require co-incineration capacity at industrial firing facilities, where the RDFs produced from high heat-value elements or Stabilat can be used.

The aggregate capacity of Germany’s 44 mechanical-biological waste treatment facilities currently amounts to around five million tons of residual waste annually.

For a description of the various types of mechanical-biological facilities and information concerning capacities, processes and points of contact, see the relevant Anlagensteckbrief document issued by the organization known as Arbeitsgemeinschaft stoffstromspezifische Abfallbehandlung (ASA).