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2016 Research Agenda

The mission of the Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management is to coordinate and engage in research, training and service activities related to solid and hazardous waste management. 

Beneficial Use / Recycling

1. Research is needed on the impacts of increased contamination (non-recyclables and broken glass) on single stream recycling processes and costs as well as an evaluation of practices that have been effective towards minimizing contamination. Which stakeholders (counties, cities, collection companies, processors, etc.) are responsible for effecting a change to solve this very important problem? What are the economics, feasibility and value of collecting glass containers?

 2. Research is needed to develop and/or recommend viable uses for or management strategies other than landfill disposal of dewatered biosolids.

3. The use of very finely ground recycled glass as a pozzolanic material (cement-like) and the use of recycled concrete as an aggregate could provide recycling opportunities and sustainable beneficial uses of two common solid waste materials (glass and concrete). Other waste streams might be used to amend the binder in hot mix asphalt. Research is needed to assess the feasibility and environmental risks and the benefits of using solid waste materials in concrete and hot mix asphalt. A life Cycle Assessment tool could be developed to estimate the overall environmental and financial risks and benefits.

4. Anaerobic digestion of solid waste and green waste is well established in Europe and has been gaining popularity in the US for recovering energy from food and yard waste and for producing a compost product. What are the barriers to implement this technology in Florida? How does the environmental and economic sustainability of this technology compare with other alternatives such as landfill bioreactors or incineration?

5. What are the effects/impacts of the use of marginal aggregates on the strength, durability and constructability of concrete? Resources for high quality aggregates are becoming more difficult to find as the population in Florida continues to expand. What about resources that are considered waste products because they don't conform to accepted standards? Can aggregates that do not fit the standard because of their gradation still be used to make strong and durable concrete, and what are the effects of using marginal aggregates on concrete properties?

6. What are the beneficial uses of closed landfills in Florida? What are the economic benefits to the community of utilizing these sites for public use? Are there any known risks for public use of closed landfills that have restricted the development of this potential resource?


7. Technological advances have come to Garbage Collection Trucks. Diesel, fully-electric, compressed natural gas (CNG), and hybrid drive trucks with various loading mechanisms make choosing the best truck for a given community challenging. Research using life cycle analysis and cost analyses for these and other various options may provide decision makers with more information when these acquisition choices are being made.


8. Exploratory research is needed to focus on the energy and water footprints of the management of "food waste." Life cycle and water footprint analyses could be used under various scenarios of generation and and disposal to evaluate energy and water costs associated with strategies for managing and recycling food waste. 8. Exploratory research is needed to focus on the energy and water footprints of the management of "food waste." Life cycle and water footprint analyses could be used under various scenarios of generation and and disposal to evaluate energy and water costs associated with strategies for managing and recycling food waste.

9. The interior walls of many homes built in Florida during a certain period of time following certain hurricanes were constructed of drywall (gypsum wall board) manufactured in China. Some homes with this foreign-sourced building material have experienced serious problems of destructive corrosion of metals, such as copper and silver. This has caused electrical wiring and HVAC failures. There were also health effects blamed on the "corrosive" drywall. Research is needed to test some existing corrosion remediation strategies and/or discover new methods for in-place treatment, which could provide an alternative to completely remove and dispose of the drywall problem.

Landfill Design and Management

10. Research is needed to monitor the temperature in various areas of the landfill, define any areas of elevated temperatures, and control and reduce the temperature in "hot" landfills. Determining some likely causes of subsurface reactions would help managers avoid future problems. A best management practice (BMP) manual for strategies to avoid reactions that generate excessive heat, methods for detecting and defining the areas of elevated temperatures in landfills, and dealing with areas of elevated temperatures would be very useful in assisting landfill operators and solid waste engineers in addressing this issue.

11. Research is needed to evaluate the performance of exposed geomembranes compared to traditional landfill closure systems. Exposed geomembranes offer the potential of improved performance and lower costs. It also allows waste to be placed in the landfill at a higher angle of repose. Research is needed to provide regulators with data and guidance for evaluating permit applications using exposed geomembranes.

12. Research is needed for economic comparison of (a) landfilling versus (b) single stream recycling versus (c) waste to energy. Elements of the research should include: up-front costs; land acquisition costs; capital costs; permitting, operations and maintenance costs; leachate and gas management costs; long term care costs that include insurance and/or escrow account costs; emissions calculations for each technology; and revenues generated from each technology.

13. Some Class I landfill cells have "perched water zones," in which liquids do not drain to the leachate collection system at the bottom of the cell. Research is needed to determine ways to manage this problem and develop designs to prevent such occurrences.

14. Tipping floors require a great deal of maintenance due to heavy equipment and solid waste. Research is needed to evaluate different types of concrete mixes for tipping floor topping and for repairing tipping floors. The project should test for durability, impact, abrasion, thickness and other related parameters.

15. What is the effect on leachate quality and waste decomposition of using compacted lime rock as capping material for closed lined landfills? Several lined landfills were closed in South Florida using compacted lime rock caps. These landfills will be reaching the end of their "long-term care periods" in the near future. Lime rock caps allow for pH buffering of infiltrating rainwater. Research is needed to study the effect of buffered rainwater infiltrating into the waste. What are the custodial requirements for these landfills?

16. Numerous landfills have high emissions of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S). Research is needed to control or prevent H2S emissions.

17. Research is needed to develop a reliable way to determine accurate "Cubic Yard to Ton Conversion Rates" for Class I and C&D Debris. Also needed are in-place compaction rates in landfills and the waste composition changes over time. A Best Management Guide would aid in determining accurate calculations of waste in place, remaining airspace, etc.

18. Cost-effective gas collection and odor control at C&D facilities: Pilot studies have been conducted to evaluate commercially available Hydrogen Sulfide removal systems and full-scale gas collection and control systems. However, gas collection at C&D facilities is a relative unknown because the state doesn't require gas control and it's very difficult to accomplish using conventional methods (bucket auger and vertical gas collection wells). In addition, through gas monitoring at a few C&D facilities, methane concentrations in the C&D landfill gas have been higher than expected. It would be helpful to know if this is unique to a few C&D facilities or if it is more common condition. If methane content is sufficient, it presents an option to flare the collected gas as a means of odor control.

19. Are current waste management systems cost effective? Waste management goals are 1) the protection of human health and the environment and 2) the conservation of resources. Do today's waste management systems fulfill these goals cost-effectively or have these goals lost importance? Are methods of waste management being used because they are commonly used in the industry rather than because of their own merits? What methodologies might do a better job than Life Cycle Analysis for analyzing and answering this question?

Landfill Gas and Leachate

20. The development of the Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida's waters is aimed at lowering the total nitrogen (TN) and phosphorus limits (Chapter 62-650, F.A.C.). These regulations will affect the effluent limits for Waste Water Treatment Plants (WWTP) if there is reasonable potential for these sites to discharge nitrogen and phosphorus in concentrations that can cause or contribute to nutrient impairment of the water body. Research is needed to quantify the bioavailable dissolved organic nitrogen (bDON) and the recalcitrant DON (rDON) in landfill leachate. The potential impacts of landfill leachate on WWTP effluent quality are not well understood. Numerous pre-treatment processes have been shown to reduce leachate TN but the removal of bDON and rDON has not been demonstrated.

 21. Research is needed to better understand why high concentrations of ammonia are present in landfill gas (LFG). What are cost effective options to reduce ammonia concentrations in LFG?

22. Research is needed to develop in situ micro sensors to detect and measure various important landfill leachate constituents in discharges to wastewater treatment plants.

23. Research is needed to develop Electrocoagulation Technology for the growth, collection and removal of algae for a sustainable waste management solution and regional bioenergy (e.g., biofuel and biomass stock) production.

24. Research is needed on algae-based dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) removal processes for advanced leachate treatment.

Policy and Regulation

25. Historically, recycling and reuse have been considered the "green/sustainable" methods for reducing the demand for landfill disposal. Recently, gasification has been proposed as an alternative method for producing energy and reducing the need to landfill the residue. Recycling and reuse often require a lot of hauling, handling and processing that consumes fossil fuels and energy. At what point do waste reduction processes become unsustainable waste producing processes because of the energy requirements and pollutant production related to transportation, handling and processing? Research is needed to compare the energy and carbon foot prints of various solid waste management techniques including, but not limited to, landfilling, waste-to-energy (WTE) by incineration, recycling (specifically paper and plastics where WTE is available), gasification and composting.

26. Florida Statutes require recycling of C&D debris to the extent it is "economically feasible." Research is needed to evaluate the economic feasibility of recycling C&D in different areas of Florida, for example, a large high-density urban county (e.g., Miami-Dade County) as opposed to rural counties (e.g. Baker County). The research project should evaluate the types of recycling activities that can be cost-effectively undertaken in both population density areas. Evaluate what can be done to enhance recycling opportunities in areas that might not otherwise be able to financially afford the type of recycling performed in the more highly developed urban and affluent counties.


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