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Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste

TUHH Anaerobic MSW ProcessAnaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste (black bag or mixed waste where no source separated or kerbside recycling is in-place) requires the separation of the organic material (organic or biological fraction) from everything else.
Mechanical Biological Treatment Plants are where the organic matter is separated from the other garbage, and in many cases they are provided with their own biogas plant. Here we introduce the MBT Plant concept, and how they improve recycling and help avoid greenhouse gas emissions by diverting organic waste away from landfill as required by the EU landfill Directive.
For many people, they have have a pretty fair understanding of what an incinerator is, and they visit their local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) quite regularly, so are reasonably knowledgeable about what happens there. But…

What is a Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant (MBT)?

Watch our video at the bottom of this page. We talk you through a flow chart – don’t expect a lot of pretty pictures!

Most people are also able to grasp the concept of waste transfer stations. The name says it all, as it is simply where the small loads from the refuse trucks are made up into large “bulk” loads for cost effective transport to the landfill.

But, beyond that there is little knowledge of MBT.

However, it is one of the waste management technologies which are being increasingly used by the local authority waste disposal contractors to avoid having to ship waste (especially organic waste) out to landfills. There could be quite a lot of them around within the next 10 to 15 years.

These Mechanical Biological Treatment Plants are being to be built in the UK.

Also, here are quite a number in the EU states already, and the Germans and the Austrians are the leaders in introducing them.

In Germany there are about 50 MBT plants built and operating (January 2008), and clearly the local people have no, or very few, objections.


MBT Plants are designed for maximum recycling, and usually include a composting and/or an Anaerobic Digestion stage.

They also are intended to make the quality of the much reduced quantity of waste, which is the remaining fraction of municipal solid waste (MSW) which cannot be re-used or recycled much less damaging when the residual quantity eventually arrives at the landfill.

MBT plants are much more popular with the general public than incinerators, as there is no question that an MBT plant operator would not absolutely maximise re-use and recycling of the incoming materials.

We are certain that incinerator operators re-use and recycle to the maximum in accordance with the requirements placed upon them and to the best capability of their equipment, as well. However, the public and environmental pressure groups don’t always see it that way.

The Anaerobic Digestion Process

19 Responses to Anaerobic Digestion of Municipal Solid Waste

  1. Ademaro Cortés Mena December 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    The Spanish company finds place on this in UK. Gracias.

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  14. Phyllis Holmes June 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

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  15. Govind Bhargav ji September 19, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    I discovered your blog web site on yahoo and checked some of your posts.

    The source separation of the digestible fraction of household waste and of other similar wastes from municipalities, prior to anaerobic digestion (AD) is a topic of increasing worldwide
    relevance, as nations seek sustainability in the management of their organic wastes.

    There is an interesting report at

    Thank you Sir.

    • biogasman September 23, 2017 at 10:32 pm #

      Hi! Govind. Thanks for the heads-up on that report. Looks like an interesting one.

  16. David Helman September 29, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    Our Council want us to put our food waste in a separate container and put all this food in our green waste bin with our garden waste. Then they will only collect it once a fortnight. Is this reasonable? Is it hygienic. I doubt it very much. I am against the anaerobic digestion plant for this reason.

  17. scarlet September 29, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    You should advise against the use of compostable plastic bags for municipal organic waste. “They are indistinguishable from other plastics and usually are not made from corn starch, some may not even be compsotable”. We recommend paper bags. The paper bag is what should be used, not so called compostable.

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