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UK waste mechanics research

Waste mechanics is a growing field of research both internationally and in the UK. The importance of understanding the mechanical behaviour of waste was highlighted by the inclusion of three specialist sessions on this topic at the recent Eighth International Waste Management and Landfill Symposium, held in Sardinia in October 2001.

The Waste Management Research Group at the University of Southampton had a strong presence at the symposium and presented a number of papers covering topics of waste hydraulics, performance of leachate wells, waste characterisation and modelling of the biodegradation process. The BRE Centre for Ground Engineering and Remediation presented initial results from an ongoing large-scale test cell being used to investigate the relationship between mechanical properties and the biodegradation process.

Work on assessment of waste settlement and development of a biodegradation model was presented by researchers from the School of Built Environment, Napier University. Results of field monitoring of waste mechanical properties and barrier performance during construction of a steep-wall lining system were presented by the Geotechnical Engineering Research Group, Loughborough University and Golder Associates.

While the contributions at Sardinia may not cover all UK activity in this area, it provides an indication of the main topics of research. During the discussion sessions attention was drawn to the many additional areas where there is limited understanding.

A key issue is the expected changes in waste composition that will result from implementation of the EU Landfill Directive.

Further research in waste mechanics is required if the UK is to construct and operate landfill facilities in accordance with the Landfill Directive and to aid post-closure development of landfill sites.

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