SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1996

Municipal Solid Waste Sampling and Characterization


The character and composition of solid wastes need to be determined for a variety of objectives. These objectives include developing design criteria for resource recovery facilities, determining performance efficiency, and evaluating source reduction initiatives (e.g. recycling).

The techniques described in this paper are for the collection and characterization of municipal solid waste and can be employed at resource recovery facilities, transfer stations and sanitary landfills. The results have been used in conjunction with emissions testing and ash analyses to calculate a mass balance for an incinerator at a resource recovery facility.

The technique utilized is an adaptation of several related ASTM methodologies developed for sampling and analyzing refuse derived fuel. Representative waste samples are manually collected from trash collection vehicles (rolloff containers, compactor trucks, etc.) as they unload. The discrete samples are collected and composited during a predetermined period. Each composite sample is mixed and characterized on-site and a portion recovered and prepared for laboratory analyses.

A significant amount of data can be generated from the sampling such as the mass and percent of recyclable materials, heating value, and elemental composition (proximate and ultimate parameters). The sampling technique can be readily modified to obtain the desired data.

Author Information

Brokaw, WS
Recon Environmental Corp, Raritan, NJ
Hornberger, GS
Recon Environmental Corp, Raritan, NJ
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Developed by Committee: D34
Pages: 137–142
DOI: 10.1520/STP16569S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5336-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2043-3