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Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Waste Management
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/wasman

Review

Characteristics of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste and


methane production: A review
Rosalinda Campuzano , Simn Gonzlez-Martnez
Environmental Engineering Department, Institute of Engineering, National University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico), 04510 Mexico DF, Mexico

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 12 February 2016
Revised 8 April 2016
Accepted 15 May 2016
Available online 25 May 2016
Keywords:
Methane production
Municipal organic waste characteristics
OFMSW

a b s t r a c t
Anaerobic digestion of the organic fraction of municipal solid waste (OFMSW) is a viable alternative for
waste stabilization and energy recovery. Biogas production mainly depends on the type and amount of
organic macromolecules. Based on results from different authors analysing OFMSW from different cities,
this paper presents the importance of knowing the OFMSW composition to understand how anaerobic
digestion can be used to produce methane. This analysis describes and discusses physical, chemical
and bromatological characteristics of OFMSW reported by several authors from different countries and
cities and their relationship to methane production. The main conclusion is that the differences are country and not city dependant. Cultural habits and OFMSW management systems do not allow a generalisation but the individual analysis for specific cities allow understanding the general characteristics for a
better methane production. Not only are the OFMSW characteristics important but also the conditions
under which the methane production tests were performed.
2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Contents
1.
2.

3.
4.
5.

6.

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.1.
Literature selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2.2.
Data extraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Physical characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Chemical characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Bromatological analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
5.1.
Carbohydrates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
5.2.
Proteins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
5.3.
Fat, oil and grease (FOG). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Conclusions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

1. Introduction
Abbreviations: OFMSW, organic fraction of municipal solid waste; TS, total
solids; VS, volatile solids; COD, chemical oxygen demand; TP, total phosphorus; KN,
Kjeldahl nitrogen; FOG, fat oil and grease; NL, normalised litres; MSW, municipal
solid waste; STP, standard temperature and pressure; BPM, biochemical methane
potential.
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: rcampuzanoa@iingen.unam.mx, rcampuzano.a@gmail.com
(R. Campuzano).
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2016.05.016
0956-053X/ 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

The definition of organic fraction of municipal solid waste


(OFMSW) varies regionally and nationally; in the United States of
America, OFMSW is considered a mixture of food, garden wastes
and paper (Palmisano and Barlaz, 1996). In the European Union
is considered a mixture of wastes from parks, gardens and kitchens
(Al Seadi et al., 2013). Production and composition of OFMSW

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

depends on geographic region, number of inhabitants and their


social condition, predominant economic activities, regional food
habits, season and recollection system (VALORGAS, 2010; Hansen
et al., 2007b; Palmisano and Barlaz, 1996).
The world municipal solid waste production is approximately
1300 million tons per year (Hoornweg and Bhada-Tata, 2012; Al
Seadi et al., 2013) and it is estimated that, in 2025, the production
will rise to 2200 million tons per year with approximately 46%
organic contents (Al Seadi et al., 2013). During many years municipal waste was disposed in landfills but, because of its environmental impact, regulations are now strict and allow landfilling only
under special considerations (Browne and Murphy, 2013; Fdez.Gelfo et al., 2011). Anaerobic OFMSW degradation takes place
naturally in landfills and the produced biogas is generally released
to the atmosphere or used for energy production (Palmisano and
Barlaz, 1996). In Landfills, a system of wells and pipes collects
the biogas and conveys it a boiler or turbine where it is combusted
to generate heat or electricity, or simply flared (Themelis and Ulloa,
2007). Li et al. (2015) describe largely the environmental and economic benefits from using landfill methane for energy production.
The actual tendency is to decrease the amount of wastes disposed
in landfills and to use the landfills only for disposing of the remaining wastes (CEPA, 2008). The tendency is to avoid, reduce, reuse,
recycle, recover, and treat and, if nothing else is possible, to dispose
of the remaining wastes (Al Seadi et al., 2013). At the end of the
90s, European legislation ordered closing several landfills to start
avoiding this practice and to promote the domestic separation of
waste fractions (Mata-Alvarez et al., 2000).
During the last years, anaerobic digestion of OFMSW and other
organic wastes has been used widely as a form to recover energy
in the form of biogas (methane) and many researchers, companies
and governmental agencies are actively working to improve the
processes (Wang et al., 2014; Guendouz et al., 2010; MataAlvarez et al., 2000). In comparison with incineration or landfilling, anaerobic digestion does not represent a potentially polluting
process when the produced biogas is adequately used (Wang et al.,
2014; Dong et al., 2010; Guendouz et al., 2010) and the costs are
relatively lower than aerobic treatment (Mata-Alvarez et al.,
2000). Actually, anaerobic digestion is the most promising and
sustainable process for the treatment of organic wastes because
it produces energy and fertilizer complements such as compost
rich in nitrogen (Walter et al., 2016; Fisgativa et al., 2016;
Suwannarat and Ritchie, 2015). When processing the biogas properly it helps reducing the methane discharges to the atmosphere
decreasing greenhouse emissions, smells and the sanitary disadvantages of landfills (Nielfa et al., 2015; Agyeman and Tao,
2014). On the other side there are disadvantages like the complexity of starting-up of the reactors (Angelidaki et al., 2006), increasing stabilisation time (Fernndez et al., 2010) and the presence of
toxic and inhibiting compounds when OFMSW is not properly separated from non-organic wastes (CEPA, 2008). Also, process control needs complex analysis because it is sensible to different
waste composition affecting kinetics: instability of the process is
common (Fisgativa et al., 2016). Kitchen wastes containing fat
tend to affect negatively reaction kinetics (Suwannarat and
Ritchie, 2015). These installations need a complex and complete
waste management in order to become profitable (Walter et al.,
2016).
Knowing the OFMSW characteristics and composition are
essential when recovering energy through biological processes;
these characteristics also affect the quality of digestate (Al Seadi
and Lukehurst, 2012). Physical and chemical heterogeneity makes
the characterisation difficult (Al Seadi and Lukehurst, 2012;
Hartmann and Ahring, 2006; Buffiere et al., 2006; Jansen et al.,
2004). Because of the possible presence of unwanted substances,
European legislation does not allow the use of digestate as

fertilizer when the separation is mechanical (Browne and


Murphy, 2013; Hansen et al., 2007a).
Several investigations have concentrated their efforts to study
the relationship between biogas production and OFMSW physical
characteristics such as particle size and type of components after
mechanical separation; others analyse chemical characteristics like
molecule types and elementary composition, and bromatological
properties such as macromolecules (Melts et al., 2014; Xu et al.,
2014; Browne and Murphy, 2013; Bernstad et al., 2013; Bernstad
and Jansen, 2012; Banks et al., 2011; Labatut et al., 2011; Izumi
et al., 2010; Forster-Carneiro et al., 2008a; Hansen et al., 2007a;
Davidsson et al., 2007; Zhang et al., 2007; Gunaseelan, 2004). Other
researchers studied variations in physical, chemical and bromatological characteristics according to geographical region, population
number and socioeconomic development, climate and seasonal
conditions, and recollection systems to know the advantages and
disadvantages to use OFMSW for biogas production (Al Seadi
et al., 2013; Bernstad and Jansen, 2012; Hansen et al., 2007b;
Jansen et al., 2004).
The main objective of this work is to make an analysis of the
OFMSW characteristics of cities from different countries and compare them with their corresponding methane production.
2. Method
Information about methane production found in articles is often
reported without considering commonly accepted units. This work
is an effort to extract the information from articles and to homogenise the units it in order to make a comparison possible. Into
account were taken characteristics such as solids, humidity, cellulosic compounds, nutrients contents, type of reactor the authors
used and methane production. Knowledge of the similarities and
differences allow researchers and practitioners compare their
experimental results with other investigations.
2.1. Literature selection
All articles reported belong to indexed journals in English. For
this purpose the online data bases Scopus, Science Direct and Scholar Google were used. The selection criteria for the search was: (a)
Less than 15 years (20012016); (b) source-separated and
mechanically-separated OFMSW (without metal, glass, stones
and plastic); (c) the articles used OFMSW for different biological
treatment processes; (d) no combined OFMSW with other organic
materials was considered; (e) only the reference with the most
complete information from every city was taken into account.
2.2. Data extraction
The OFMSW characteristics were classified as physical, chemical and bromatological. Most of the authors report only few characteristics with different units, according to the objectives of
their work. The information summarised in this paper is homogeneous (as far as possible) for comparison purposes. In order to
homogenise the information it was necessary to transform units
and calculate concentrations and contents from every article presented. In several cases the methane production reported did not
comply with standard conditions. From the countries with the
highest number of reports, only one report from every city was
considered.
3. Physical characteristics
There are different criteria to categorize solid municipal wastes
and OFMSW. VALORGAS Project (valorisation of food waste to

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

biogas) made studies about management and characterisation of


OFMSW in four European Union countries: United Kingdom, Finland, Italy and Portugal. The results show the effects of collection
system and categorization (fractions) over the physical characteristics; it compares five different conceptions on characterisation
derived from different projects (Valorus, Greenfinch, UNIVE, WRAP
and VALORGAS) (VALORGAS, 2010). According to Greenfinch, Fig. 1
shows different OFMSW components. The classification proposes
16 fractions (seeds and stones are not shown) and it shows also
how heterogeneous the fractions are. Independently of how the
fractions were separated, every one of them is different, specially
related to size (VALORGAS, 2010).
VALORGAS project mentions the importance of waste management, container types and collection systems and their relationship
with undesirable substances and wastes often present in OFMSW
(VALORGAS, 2010). Different materials and substances are considered harmful for anaerobic digestion, such as plastic bags, packing
material and voluminous garden wastes (tree branches). The adequate on-site separation avoids the presence of these contaminants, otherwise mechanical separation will be needed and the
processing costs can increase (Al Seadi and Lukehurst, 2012).
VALORGAS project also analyses the presence of other organic
compounds that can be harmful for anaerobic digestion and can
decrease digestate quality, such as egg shells, seeds and bones.
Non-biodegradable and biodegradable large particles are considered physical impurities. The particle size have a direct influence on the anaerobic digestion process, where larger particles
take longer to produce biogas (Sharma et al., 1988; Kim et al.,
2000; Palmowski and Mller, 2000; Izumi et al., 2010; Zhang and
Banks, 2013). Due to the heterogeneity and size of the particles
the OFMSW needs size reduction through grinding, chopping or
any other suitable process before using it for biogas production
(Al Seadi and Lukehurst, 2012).
Another physical parameter affecting anaerobic digesters mixing is rheology. No reports on raw OFMSW rheology and mixing
have been found, with the exception of one single paper reporting
the codigestion of OFMSW combined with manure where the
authors indicate that the mixture behave as a no-Newtonian
pseudo-plastic fluid with solids contents as low as 2.5% (Wu,
2012).
Density is a parameter often used to calculate anaerobic digestion and to analyse the behaviour of digesters but few authors
report on this parameter. Table 1 presents values found in specialised literature: density values vary from 328 to 1052 kg/m3.
The wastes with highest density contain less unwanted substances

Fig. 1. OFMSW categorization according to Greenfinch. Source: VALORGAS (2010)


(modified).

Table 1
OFMSW density according to different authors.
Source

Density
(kg/m3)

Reference

Source separated. Original size


Mechanically separated
Dried at 105 C

750
790810
666

Separated with a pulper


Mechanically separated and
ground
OFMSW
Food waste

933
328

Antognoni et al. (2013)


Romero Aguilar et al. (2013)
Fernndez-Rodrguez et al.
(2013)
Dong et al. (2010)
Forster-Carneiro et al. (2008b)

1052
513

Castillo et al. (2006)


Han and Shin (2002)

and materials. Of all the reports and studies found, ForsterCarneiro et al. (2008b) report wastes with the lowest density,
low biodegradability and higher amounts of unwanted materials.
4. Chemical characteristics
From a chemical point of view, OFMSW has as many characteristics as components. There are parameters generally found in
studies dealing with management and processing of OFMSW such
as humidity, solids (total, volatile, fixed) and their ratios, Kjeldahl
nitrogen and total phosphorus. These parameters are used as basic
determinations of organic matter (biodegradable or not) and the
nutrients contained in OFMSW as substrate for anaerobic digestion. OFMSW characterisation is necessary for environmental studies and valorisation, for regional, seasonal and socioeconomic
purposes (VALORGAS, 2010; Alibardi and Cossu, 2015) and how
these characteristics affect methanation.
Elementary composition is the key to evaluate possible nutrients recovery, such as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus; it also
allows to estimate the theoretical methane production (Buffiere
et al., 2006; De Broauer et al., 2005; Jansen et al., 2004;
Liwarska-Bizukojc and Ladakowicz, 2003).
The VALORGAS Project (VALORGAS, 2010) categorised OFMSW
from four different countries (United Kingdom, Finland, Italy and
Portugal) and they conclude that some fractions are more notorious according to dietary habits; for example, in Italy pasta is an
important component in the waste, in Finland the wastes contain
many tea bags and coffee rests, and in the United Kingdom there
are many bread wastes. When chemically analysing OFMSW in
these countries, the apparent differences decrease and the energetic contents is similar. This is explained basically considering
that the human energetic requirements and that social habits are
similar in the European countries.
Alibardi and Cossu (2015) sampled OFMSW during different
seasons in Padua, Italy, during the months of February, May, July,
October and November, and classified the wastes according to 6
main contents: meat-fish-cheese, fruit, vegetables, bread-pasta,
not identifiable materials and refuse. The authors observed important variations in the fractions but, in all samples, fruit and vegetables represent slightly over 50% of the organic content.
Table 2 presents OFMSW characteristics from wastes from 22
different countries. These studies conclude that pH values range
from 3.9 to 7.9 with an average of 5.2 0.95. Total solids (TS) range
between 15.0% in Indore to 50.2% in Arizona. From the 43 cities,
there are only 15 reporting TS values under 25%. The highest TS
value is reported by Zhu et al. (2010) with 50.2%, resulting from
the separation process using compressed air. The reported average
TS and humidity values are 27.2 7.6% and 72.8 7.6%,
respectively.
Volatile solids (VS) vary considerably from 7.4% in Cadiz to
36.1% in Arizona, affecting the VS/TS ratio from 43% in Cadiz to

Table 2
Chemical OFMSW characteristics and methane production according to different authors. The values are wet weight based.
City

pH

Humidity
(%)

TS
(%)

VS
(%)

VS/TS
(%)

KN
(g/kg)

TP
(g/kg)

Methane
(NL/kgVS)

Reactor
type

Fermentation

Temperature

Reference

Australia

Brisbane

70.6

29.4

22.7

77.1

8.6

Hla and Roberts (2015)

Belgium

Gent

74.5

25.5

24.0

94.0

11.9

0.7

319

Semi

Wet

Meso

Vrieze et al. (2013)

China

Shanghai
Canton

4.7
5.3

78.8
81.6

21.2
18.4

19.7
11.3

92.8
61.6

4.2

0.4

465a
314a

Semi
Batch

Dry
Dry

Meso
Meso

Dai et al. (2013)


Dong et al. (2010)

Colombia

Bucaramanga

84.0

16.0

15.1

94.4

7.7

2.2

297a

Semi

Dry

Meso

Castillo et al. (2006)

Czech Republic

Prague

5.95

67.5

32.5

23.1

71.0

4.5

0.7

Hanc et al. (2011)

Denmark

Lyngby
Copenhagen
Vejile
Kolding
Aalborg
Kolding
Grindsted

84.0
72.0
70.0
67.0
70.0
68.3
64.4

16.0
28.0
30.0
33.0
29.4
31.7
35.6

14.9
24.4
24.0
26.4
25.2
26.4
30.7

93.4
87.0
80.0
82.0
85.6
83.4
86.2

5.2
7.0
6.9
7.9

6.3

1.7
1.5
1.7
1.5
1.6

579
500
515
573
485
468
373

Batch
Batch
Batch
Batch
Batch
Batch
Batch

Wet
BMP
BMP
BMP
BMP
BMP
BMP

Meso
Thermo
Thermo
Thermo
Thermo
Thermo
Thermo

Fitamo et al. (2016)


Davidsson et al. (2007)

Hansen et al. (2007a)

Gistrup

4.6

70.0

30.0

24.4

81.0

6.5

580

Batch

Wet

Thermo

Hartmann and Ahring


(2005)
Angelidaki et al. (2006)

Finland

Forssa

5.3

73.0

27.0

24.9

92.3

6.5

0.7

VALORGAS (2010)

France

Rennes

5.3

78.7

21.3

17.5

82.1

4.5

Adhikari et al. (2013)

Germany

Karlsruhe

5.1

74.5

25.5

22.5

88.2

7.8

528a

Batch

Wet

Meso

Nayono et al. (2009)

Greece

Xanthi

53.7

46.3

34.9

75.3

6.9

Komilis et al. (2012)

Greenland

Sisimiut

62.6

37.4

33.7

90.0

13.9

13.0

Eisted and Christensen


(2011)

India

Kerala
Indore

6.2

81.3
85.0

18.7
15.0

16.9
13.3

90.6
88.5

1.0
1.7

320

Batch

Wet

Meso

Sajeena Beevi et al. (2015)


Rao and Singh (2004)

Ireland

Cork

4.1

70.6

29.4

28.0

95.0

10.4

529

Batch

BMP

Meso

Browne and Murphy


(2013)

Italy

Padova
Lacchiarella
Udine
Perugia

4.32

69.5
77.7
70.0
81.1

30.5
22.3
30.0
18.9

28.1
19.7
27.5
15.8

92.0
88.3
92.0
84.0

7.7
4.0
7.2

1.16

0.63

490
336
365
0

Batch
Batch
Batch
Batch

BMP
BMP
BMP
Dry

Meso
Meso
Meso
Themo

Milan
Verona
Treviso

4.38

6.2

75.8
71.2
72.5

24.2
28.8
27.5

22.2
22.8
23.6

91.6
79.0
86.6

5.0
28.0
7.0

0.5
2.4
1.0

410

Batch

BMP

Meso

Alibardi and Cossu (2015)


Pognani et al. (2015)
Cabbai et al. (2013)
Fantozzi and Buratti
(2011)
Schievano et al. (2010)
Bolzonella et al. (2005
VALORGAS (2010

Lebanon

Beirut

81.4

18.6

17.2

92.6

0.7

350a

Semi

Wet

Thermo

Ghanimeh et al. (2012)

Mexico

Mexico City

70.3

29.7

22.3

75.1

5.4

1.8

545

Semi

Wet

Meso

Campuzano and GonzlezMartnez (2015)

Portugal

Lisbon

66.2

33.8

27.6

81.7

5.1

1.7

VALORGAS (2010)

Republic of Korea

Daejeon

3.9

78.9

21.1

17.4

82.5

13

502

Semi

Dry

Meso

Cho et al. (2013)

Spain

Barcelona
Different cities
Cadiz

5.26
7.9

71.0
70.8
82.8

29.0
29.2
17.2

22.3
24.9
7.4

77.0
85.2
43.0

5.3
7.7
26.0

382

61a

Batch

Batch

BMP

Dry

Meso

Thermo

Pons et al. (2011)


Lpez et al. (2010)
Forster-Carneiro et al.
(2008b)

Turkey

Ankara

64.4

35.6

33.8

94.9

7.2

Cekmecelioglu and Uncu


(2013)

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

Country

Where authors provided the information, methane production was adjusted to standard temperature and pressure (STP) of 273.15 K and 1 atm.
() indicates no data available, BPM = biochemical methane potential (wet fermentation test).
a
As authors did not provide temperature and pressure data, it is assumed that these values are under STP conditions.

415 137.7
1.7 2.5
7.9 5.4
84.6 9.9
22.9 6.3
27.2 7.6
72.8 7.6
5.2 0.95
Averages

Banks et al. (2011)

Brown and Li (2013)


Zhu et al. (2010)
Zhang et al. (2007)

Thermo
Thermo

Wet
BMP

Semi
Batch

177
435

0.5
1.6

1.9
9.8
90.8
71.9
85.3
13.8
36.1
26.4
15.2
50.2
30.9
84.8
49.8
69.1
Wooster
Arizona (city not specified)
San Francisco
USA

4.1
5.4

VALORGAS (2010)

Meso

Dry

Semi

402
1.2
0.8
1.9
7.4
7.8
8.9
91.3
94.2
88.0
21.8
26.8
24.4
23.7
28.6
27.7
76.3
71.4
72.3
Luton
Eastleigh
Southampton
United Kingdom

5.1
5.7

City
Country

Table 2 (continued)

pH

Humidity
(%)

TS
(%)

VS
(%)

VS/TS
(%)

KN
(g/kg)

TP
(g/kg)

Methane
(NL/kgVS)

Reactor
type

Fermentation

Temperature

Reference

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

95% in Cork and Ankara. This ample range can be explained


because of the different OFMSW conceptions and management
previous to processing. Individual average values for Italy, United
Kingdom, India and Denmark are 87.6, 91.2, 89.6 and 84.8%,
respectively, where the United Kingdom presents the highest volatile contents. Forster-Carneiro et al. (2008b) report the lowest VS/
TS ratio of 43% for Cadiz; when removing this value from the rest,
the other values vary between 61.6 and 95%. The average VS/TS
ratio of all cities mentioned in Table 2 is 84.6 9.9%.
Total phosphorus presents important differences between
countries and cities: Values are from 0.4 to 13 g/kg with an average
of 1.7 2.5 g/kg. The organic waste from Greenland presents a
higher and unusual phosphorus concentration with 13 g/kg; without this value the other values vary between 0.4 and 2.4 g/kg.
Values for Kjeldahl nitrogen (KN) vary between 1.0 g/kg in Kerala,
India, and 28 g/kg in Verona, Italy, with an average of 7.9 5.4 g/kg.
The KN values in Verona and Cadiz are extremely high and can be
considered as exceptional.
Regarding humidity, TS, VS and VS/TS ratio, the cities with
smaller differences are found in India, Denmark and the United
Kingdom. In Cdiz and Barcelona, Spain, important differences in
these parameters can be observed. The countries with highest
humidity are in Asia (81%) while the OFMSW with highest VS/TS
ratio (85%) and KN (8.4 g/kg) are European. The highest TP content
was observed in Sisimiut, Greenland, with 13 g/kg, followed by
Verona, Italy (2.4 g/kg), Bucaramanga, Colombia (2.2 g/kg), and
Southampton, United Kingdom (1.9 g/kg).
Also in Table 2 methane production values are recorded for the
indicated cities. These values vary between 61 NL/kgVS in Cadiz
(an exceptional value) to 580 in Gistrup, Denmark. The overall
average is 415 138 NL/kgVS. The average methane production
for Italy is 400 NL/kgVS and 499 NL/kgVS for Denmark.
Correlation between OFMSW and methane production depends
not only on the characteristics of the waste but also on the process
or experimental conditions. In most experiments the tests are performed in batch systems and there are reports on semi-continuous
and continuous systems. There are mesophilic systems and thermophilic ones. The methane production systems are common for
wet or dry and semi-dry fermentation tests. All these test differences hardly allow a more accurate comparison of results from
the different authors.
Fig. 2 shows different OFMSW characteristics and methane production according to different authors from Table 2. Fig. 2 shows
the relationship between methane production and the VS/TS ratio
where most of the authors report TS and VS between 20 and 40% of
wet weight and VS/TS from 80 to 95%. Methane production ranges
between 300 and 600 NL/kgVS for VS/TS ratio between 75 and 95%.
Despite the differences and a low correlation, the tendency is
positive.

Fig. 2. Methane production according to VS/TS ratio from several authors.

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

Table 3
Elemental OFMSW composition according to different authors. The values are based on dry weight.
Country

City

Composition

Reference

C (%)

H (%)

N (%)

Australia

Brisbane

48.4

6.7

2.94

0.2

Hla and Roberts (2015)

China

Canton

37.7

5.7

3.3

0.1

Dong et al., 2010)

Denmark

Copenhagen
Aalborg
Kolding

51.3
46.7
47.5

7.5
6.8
7.0

2.4
2.4
2.6

0.2
0.2
0.2

Hansen et al. (2007a)

S (%)

Finland

Forssa

49.4

2.5

VALORGAS (2010)

Greece

Xanthi

40.5

5.75

1.5

Komilis et al. (2012)

Greenland

Sisimiut

49.2

6.9

3.7

0.9

Eisted and Christensen (2011)

India

Indore

40.0

Rao and Singh (2004)

Ireland

Cork

49.6

7.3

3.5

Browne and Murphy (2013)

Italy

Lacchiarella
Udine
Treviso

49.0
37.6
47.2

5.6

2.8
2.6

Pognani et al. (2015)


Cabbai et al. (2013)
VALORGAS (2010)

Republic of Korea

Daejeon

48.7

6.9

3.8

0.3

Han and Shin (2002)

United Kingdom

Luton
Eastleigh

51.2
48.8

6.6
6.4

3.1
2.9

0.2

VALORGAS (2010)

USA

New York
California

48.4
46.8

3.8
3.2

0.6

Agyeman and Tao (2014)


Zhang et al. (2007)

46.6 4.4

6.6 0.62

2.9 0.6

0.3 0.26

Averages
() indicates no data available.

Table 3 presents OFMSW elementary composition from 18


cities in 12 countries. These values are seldom reported because
most of the authors are interested in OFMSW for biogas production
(organic matter) and elementary composition is not basically
required for this purpose. According to VALORGAS (2010), independently of the regional differences, the main components do
not vary significantly from each other. Carbon contents varies from
37.6 to 51.3% of TS with an average of 46.6 4.4%; the lowest values were reported by Cabbai et al. (2013) and Dong et al. (2010)
with 37.6%, Eisted and Christensen (2011) with 40.5% and Rao
and Singh (2004) with 40%. All other values are higher than
46.7%. Values of hydrogen and nitrogen are similar with averages
of 6.6 0.62% and 2.9 0.6%, respectively. Sulphur concentrations
were similar in most of the cases with values between 0.1 and
0.3%TS, while Agyeman and Tao (2014) reported 0.6%TS and
Eisted and Christensen (2011) 0.9%TS. According to Browne and
Murphy (2013), OFMSW stoichiometry is C16.4H29O9.8N;
Fongsatitkul et al. (2010) report a different composition with
C25H42.5O20N.
Table 4 shows COD values of OFMSW. Few studies present this
determination because of the complexity derived from the OFMSW
heterogeneity and particle size. Besides, when processing OFMSW
for biogas production, most of the values are reported with relation

Table 4
OFMSW COD according to different authors. The values are wet based.
City/Country

COD (g/kg)

Reference

Cadiz/Spain
Daejeon/Republic of
Korea
Gent/Blegium
Grindsted/Denmark
Karlsruhe/Germany
Mexico DF/Mexico

140
320

Forster-Carneiro et al. (2008b)


Cho et al. (2013)

260
431
350
304

Padova/Italy
Rennes/France
Verona/Italy

575
257
347

Vrieze et al. (2013)


Hartmann and Ahring (2005)
Nayono et al. (2009)
Campuzano and Gonzlez-Martnez
(2015)
Alibardi and Cossu (2015)
Adhikari et al. (2013)
Bolzonella et al. (2005)

to VS. The reported values vary significantly from 140 to 575 g/kg
and it can be related to the VS/TS ratio: the higher the VS/TS ratio,
the higher the COD: For a COD of 575 g/kg, the VS/TS ratio is 0.92
and for COD of 140 g/kg, the ratio is 0.43.
5. Bromatological analysis
Considering that domestic organic wastes origin mainly from
food, then it is possible to describe them from the food perspective
with carbohydrate, protein, and fats and oils as the main
components.
The biogas potential strongly depends on substrate quality and
biodegradability, especially on the contents of macromolecules like
lignocellulose, hemicellulose and cellulose (Hartmann and Ahring,
2006; Buffiere et al., 2006). Few reports can be found on OFMSW
bromatological characteristics. Sugars and starch are easily
biodegradable and their determination present a challenge
because of their changing complexity: Separation and storage or
transport time of OFMSW can change the composition in a short
time. Sampling and transporting samples to a laboratory can also
affect the composition (Hansen et al., 2007b).
Buffiere et al. (2006) characterised different types of organic
wastes such as salads, carrots, grass, banana, potatoes and oranges
determining their bromatological properties together with cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, fat and protein; they observed that
the biodegradability decreases with the increase of the lignocellulosic content of the waste. Alibardi and Cossu (2015) determined the lowest methane production from wastes containing
high carbohydrate content and the highest production was
observed with wastes rich in fat and oils. Xu et al. (2014) report
that lignin content is undesired in wastes affecting negatively the
methane production and that cellulose and other extractable compounds have a positive effect on methane production.
5.1. Carbohydrates
The main components are raw fibre, soluble and non-soluble
carbohydrates (cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin) and starch

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312


Table 5
Bromatological characteristics of OFMSW according to various authors. All values are in percent of the volatile solids (%VS).
Country

City

Fat, oil,
grease

Protein

Raw fibre

Lignin

Carbohydrates

Reference

Cellulose

Hemicellulose

Starch

Free
sugars

Total

China

Guangzhou

15.6

23.1

13.6

61.4

Dong et al. (2010)

Colombia

Bucaramanga

19.9

5.2

6.4

2.9

Castillo et al. (2006)

Denmark

Lyngby
Copenhagen
Vejile
Kolding
Aalborg
Kolding
Grinsted

20.5
13.8
12.5
18.3
16.5
18.0

30.0
14.9
12.5
18.3
17.5
19.2

26.4
32.5
15.9
17.3
19.2
36.6

18.5

5.0

13.1

13.8
16.3
20.7
18.8
15.4

8.0
6.3
11.0
10.0
5.9

Fitamo et al. (2016)


Davidsson et al.
(2007)
Hansen et al. (2007a)
Hartmann and Ahring
(2005)

France

Rennes

41.8

3.8

23.4

14.6

Adhikari et al. (2013)

India

Indore

9.6

7.7

37.8

9.6

17.5

10.7

Rao and Singh (2004)

Ireland

Cork

19.9

18.9

61.9

Browne and Murphy


(2013)

Italy

Padova

20.7

17.4

22.9

5.4

12.0

5.5

17.4

22.0

62.0

Udine
Milano

6.09

14.61

22.6

7.1

11.2

4.3

35.0

Alibardi and Cossu


(2015)
Cabbai et al. (2013)
Schievano et al.
(2010)

Mexico

Mexico City

17.5

15.2

39.5

13.5

21.1

5.1

52.9

Campuzano and
Gonzlez-Martnez
(2015)

Turkey

Ankara

26.0

13.3

63.2

Cekmecelioglu and
Uncu (2013)

United
Kingdom

Luton
Eastleigh

14.8
15.2

21.3
18.3

VALORGAS (2010)

USA

New York

35.0

26.6

19.6

52.1

Arizona (city
not specified)

11.7

71.9

14.6

51.9

12.6

Agyeman and Tao


(2014)
Zhu et al. (2010)

17.5 6.6

17.7 5.5

29.2 15.0

9.7 5.3

18.6 15.0

8.6 4.6

17.1 2.5

10.5 6.0

55.5 10.1

Average
() indicates no data available.

(Sanders, 2001). Cellulose is essential in the structure of plants. It is


the mostly abundant polysaccharide in complex organic wastes.
The b configuration allows cellulose to form long, linear chains
bond to other chains with hydrogen bonds and forming an organised crystalline structure difficult to hydrolyse (Himmel et al.,
2007; Sierra et al., 2007; Jrdening and Winter, 2005). Hemicellulose is a heteropolysaccharide built from different monosaccharides like pentoses and hexoses where xylose is predominant
(Sierra et al., 2007). The ramified structure makes hemicellulose
more resistant than cellulose to hydrolysation (Sierra et al.,
2007); it is chemically bound to lignin and it binds lignin and cellulose (Sierra et al., 2007). Contrary to Sierra et al. (2007), Himmel
et al. (2007), and Peters (2007), state that hemicellulose is more
easily degradable than cellulose. Linear amylose and amylopectin
are the principal constituents of starch. Their relative proportion
varies and it determines the enzymatic attack. Amylose is water
soluble but amylopectin is not (Sanders, 2001).
Lignin is a constituent of raw fibres and it is not a carbohydrate.
It is a polymer containing phenol strongly linked with polysaccharides and it enhances the resistance of fibres to microbial attack
forming lignocellulosic compounds (AACC, 2001). Lignin determines the anaerobic biodegradability degree of substrates (Sierra
et al., 2007; Buffiere et al., 2006). According to Xu et al. (2014),
Sierra et al. (2007), Hartmann and Ahring (2006), and Buffiere
et al. (2006), lignocellulosic and raw fibre contents are a negative
indicator for methane production: lignin cannot be hydrolysed
under anaerobic conditions.

5.2. Proteins
Proteins are polypeptidic chains of L-a-aminoacids bound
between a-carboxylic radicals on one side and a-amino on the
other (Nelson and Cox, 2013). Proteins are the only organic compounds containing nitrogen and sulphur. During the anaerobic
digestion of proteins, sulphur can lead to the formation of hydrogen sulphide as biogas constituent (Straka et al., 2007). Proteins
are easily biodegradable under anaerobic conditions. Anaerobic
decomposition of proteins can also produce free ammonia, which
can be toxic to methanogenic archaea (Straka et al., 2007).
5.3. Fat, oil and grease (FOG)
Their origin can be animal or vegetal. They are mostly triglycerides containing glycerol and long-chain fatty acids. Their
hydrophobic nature makes them water insoluble and they stick
easily to the waste particles (Sanders, 2001). FOG are often found
in wastes from slaughterhouses, food processing industry, dairy
products and, in several countries, from the olive milling industry
(Cirne et al., 2007). During anaerobic digestion FOG are easily
hydrolysed to long-chain fatty acids and then to acetate and hydrogen (Alves et al., 2001) and they are welcome as substrate because
of the high methane yields (Steffen et al., 1998; Wan et al., 2011; Li
et al., 2011).
Table 5 presents bromatological analysis of OFMSW from 22
cities in 11 different countries. Bromatological analysis, generally,

10

R. Campuzano, S. Gonzlez-Martnez / Waste Management 54 (2016) 312

present values for FOG, protein, raw fibres (lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose) and carbohydrates (cellulose, hemicellulose, starch and
free sugars); both cellulose and hemicellulose are found in the
groups of raw fibres and carbohydrates. All these molecules
together constitute 100% of volatile solids. This is the reason the
values in Table 5 are reported as percent of VS. The differences in
values in this table are more notorious than in Tables 2 and 3.
FOG contents varies from 6.09 in Italy to 35%VS in USA, protein
from 7.7 in India to 30%VS in Denmark, and raw fibre from 13.6%
VS in Aalborg to 71.9%VS in Arizona. Most of the research found
report these constituents and, in some others, carbohydrates and
lignin. Average values for lignin were 9.7 5.3%VS, for cellulose
18.6 15.0%VS, hemicellulose 8.6 4.6%VS, starch 17.1 2.5%VS,
free sugars 10.5 6.0%VS and total carbohydrates 55.5 10.1%VS.
The lower variations were for starch with values between 13.8
and 20.7%VS. The ample variations are the result of different management systems in different countries together with different
social, regional and cultural characteristics. Some authors do not
report the presence of garden wastes, reducing the raw fibres
and lignin contents.

6. Conclusions
OFMSW characteristics from 43 cities in 22 countries were
compiled and compared among them and with their corresponding
methane production, which depends not only on OFMSW characteristics but also on process conditions (batch or continuous, wet
or dry, mesophilic or thermophilic fermentation). From these
cities, 30 are in Europe, followed by Asia and America with 6 each
one, and Oceania with only one. In Europe, Denmark and Italy are
the countries with more reports. Most of the references deal with
chemical characteristics like pH, moisture, total and volatile solids
and, less frequently, elementary and bromatological composition.
Some of these documents report OFMSW characteristics without
methane production. The characteristics with lower variability
(standard deviation/average values) are carbon, hydrogen, humidity, starch and VS/TS ratio. The lowest variability results from
OFMSW with higher food waste and easily degradable compounds.
The highest variability was observed for total phosphorus, sulphur,
hemicellulose, Kjeldahl nitrogen, free sugars, lignin and raw fibre.
This is a consequence of how OFMSW is defined in different countries (content type) and other factors like weather, predominant
economic activities, nutritional habits, seasonal changes and recollection system.
China and India present the lowest volatile solids and Greece,
Greenland and Turkey the highest. With exception of Cadiz, the
VS/TS ratio is comparable in almost all cities, where the least differences between cities in one single country were observed for
Denmark.
The methane production versus VS/TS ratio shows a positive
tendency but not a good regression. The highest methane production was observed for OFMSW from Danish cities (from 373 to 580
NL/kgVS, where most of the values are higher) together with Mexico City (545 NL/kgVS), followed by Cork in Ireland (529 NL/kgVS)
and Karlsruhe in Germany (528 NL/kgVS). From the 28 cities
reporting methane production, 9 report values above 500 NL/kgVS,
7 between 400 and 500 NL/kgVS and 12 under 400 NL/kgVS.

Acknowledgements
This research was possible thanks to the support of the Academic Affairs Directorate of the National Autonomous University
of Mexico (DGAPA-UNAM), contract IN108513 and IN110115,
and to the scholarship provided by the Graduate Studies Bureau

of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (CEP-UNAM)


and the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT).

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