Handling leachate from glass cullet stockpiles

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Mixed glass cullet (crushed recycled glass containers) is stockpiled uncovered before use as roadway construction aggregate or daily cover in landfills. Rainwater that leaches through the stockpiles dissolves and suspends contaminants such as those from food residuals and paper labels. The objective of this study was to determine leachate quantity and quality from cullet stockpiles as a basis for development of Best Management Practices (BMPs). Four 35-tonne field stockpiles were set up for leachate analysis and to determine the effects of mechanical turning treatment on the leachate. Field-collected leachate and laboratory-generated washwater of cullet (water:cullet = 3:1 by weight) were both analyzed for basic wastewater parameters, which showed pollutant levels comparable to or higher than those of untreated domestic wastewater or urban stormwater. While organic contamination decreased substantially (e.g., washwater BOD > 95% reduction), TKN and total-phosphorus levels in leachate ranged between 11.6-154 mg L-1 and 1.6-12.0 mg L-1, respectively, and remained comparable to levels found in untreated domestic wastewater after four months. Turning enhanced the degradation of the organic constituents inside the stockpiles, which was confirmed by elevated temperatures. Based on this study, leachate from glass cullet stockpiles should not be released to surface water. For leachate from long-term cullet stockpiles, release to groundwater should be only done after treatment to reduce nitrogen levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1296-1305
Number of pages10
JournalWaste Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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