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School of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Now offering two distinct diplomas: Chemical Engineering and Environmental Engineering

Municipal Solid Waste: System Management and Design


SchoolEnvironmental Engineering
Course LevelUndergraduate
Course IDENVE 338Semester7th
Course CategoryRequired
Course ModulesInstruction Hours per WeekECTS

Lectures and Laboratory assignments

T=3, E=1, L=2/2

Course TypeScientific area
Instruction/Exam LanguageGreek
The course is offered to Erasmus studentsYes
Course URLhttps//  (in Greek)



Learning Outcomes

The course is teaching integrated systems for Solid Waste Management (SWM). Waste is not a waste. Waste is a misplaced resource and can be converted into reusable materials, energy, and other products with high value. 

The student will learn the types of MSW: food wastes, paper/cardboard, plastics, textiles, leather, yard waste, wood waste, metals, special waste, and household hazardous waste, etc. The student will gain knowledge on waste characterization data. The data are needed to address issues related to national policy setting, regional planning of waste management, legal aspects, administration, cost accounting, design and operation of facilities, environmental assessment. The student would conduct waste characterization study to identify the sources, characteristics and quantities of the waste generated, gather existing information, develop sampling method, conduct field studies, conduct market surveys for special wastes, and assess factors affecting waste generation rates.

The student would learn about the circular economy concept and the effect of waste prevention and recycling. The materials commonly recovered from MSW are:
Aluminum: Al cans and secondary Al; save 95% of energy
Paper: newsprint (lignin difficult to degrade in landfill); recycle; long fiber; no good for magazine
Plastics: PET/HDPE/PP/PE…
Glass: sorting
Ferrous metals: cars and appliances
Non-ferrous metals: copper wire, light fixture
Yard/wood wastes
Construction & Demolition (C&D) waste: wood chips used as fuel, composite materials, aggregates…
Government support is required to ensure a stable market
MRFs for separation and processing
Reuse or recycling
Non-reusable or non-recyclable is disposed

The student will investigate unit operations for waste separation and processing:

  • to modify the physical characteristics of the waste so that waste component can be removed more easily
  • to remove specific components and contaminants from the waste stream
  • to process and prepare the separated materials for subsequent uses

The student will learn the definition of thermal processes:

  • Combustion/Incineration
  • Stoichiometric combustion
  • Excess-air combustion
  • Pyrolysis
  • Gasification
  • Exothermic/endothermic

The targets of incineration are: reduction of waste by volume, inertisation of hazardous waste residues, destruction of contaminants, recovery of waste energy, transforming residues into usable secondary products.
Pyrolysis & Gasification:

  • Both systems are used to convert solid waste into gaseous, liquid and solid fuels
  • Gasification process is highly exothermic and therefore self-sustaining
  • Pyrolysis process is highly endothermic and requires an external heat source
  • Pyrolysis reactions take place in an oxygen free environment and gasification systems use air or oxygen for the partial combustion of solid waste

Biological conversion of MSW:

  • The biodegradable organic fraction of MSW (OFMSW) is mainly composed of proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, cellulose, lignin and ash.
  • The two common biological processes used to transform these organic materials into gaseous, liquid and solid conversion products are:
    • Aerobic biological transformation (Composting)
    • Anaerobic biological transformation (Anaerobic Digestion)

The objectives of composting:

  • To transform the biodegradable organic materials into a biologically stable product and reduce the volume of waste
  • To destroy pathogens, insect eggs and other unwanted organisms and weed seeds that may be present in MSW
  • To retain the maximum nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) content
  • To produce a product that can be used to support plant growth and as a soil amendment.

The Anaerobic Digestion stages:

  • Initial hydrolysis of particulate matter and larger molecules
  • Fermentation (acidogenesis) (formation of acids) generating primarily acetate, but also other Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA)
  • Acetogenesis (formation of acetate), hydrogen is used as an electron acceptor
  • Methanogenesis
                    Acetate → CO2+ CH4 (major pathway app. 70%)
                    4H2 + CO2 →CH4 + 2H2O

The student would learn the definition of landfill terms:

  • Sanitary landfill vs. Secure landfill (HW)
  • Types and methodologies
  • Cell vs. lift
  • Daily / intermediate / final cover
  • Landfill gas
  • Leachate
  • Landfill liner system / leachate collection system
  • Landfill cover system
  • Closure vs. post-closure
  • Monitoring system
In addition the student will gain knowledge on preparation of site for landfilling, design of landfills, landfill liners, leachate collection systems, mechanisms of oil liner failure, closure and Post-closure of landfill, re-cultivation and aftercare, and operation of landfill as bioreactor.
General Competencies/Skills
  • Review, analysis and synthesis of data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Team work
  • Work in an international frame
  • Protect natural environment


  • Introduction to Integrated Solid Waste Management
    • Solid waste categories
    • Qualitative and quantitative analysis
    • Properties and generation
    • MSW composition studies in Greece and overseas
    • Current practices, problems and future trends
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recovery… The Rs of Solid Waste Management
    • Basic Principles
    • Recycling Performance Assessment
    • Recycling Materials
    • Recycling opportunities
    • Separation/processing unit operations
  • Biological Treatment
    • Basic principles
    • Methods for biological treatment of municipal solid waste
    • Composting
    • Advantages and disadvantages of composting
    • The science of composting
    • Stages of Composting
    • Important factors in compost chemistry
    • Quality requirements
    • Anaerobic digestion
    • Low-solids (wet) anaerobic digestion
    • Dry anaerobic digestion
    • Anaerobic digestion facilities
  • Thermal Treatment
    • Introduction
    • Incineration
    • Incineration facilities
    • Pyrolysis
    • Gasification
    • Hydrothermal
    • Air Pollution Control Systems
  • Process balance
    • Mass balances
    • Pollutants
    • Energy yields
    • Summary
  • Sanitary landfills
    • Disposal
    • Landfill
    • Production and composition of leachates
    • Biogas
  • Liner Systems, Management and Collection of leachates
    • Leachate Production
    • Slope and collection of leachate/exhaust pipe installation
    • Hydraulic conductivity of the drainage zone
    • Selection and characteristics of the pipe
    • Blocking and filtering
  • Biogas Collection and Control Systems
    • Estimate quantity of biogas
    • Passive monitoring of biogas
    • Active monitoring of biogas
    • Concentrates on biogas recovery systems
    •  Biogas Management
  • Design of landfills
    • Design of landfill
    • Compost cover
    • Closing a landfill
  • Final cover and restoration


Lecture MethodDirect (face to face)
Use of Information and Communication TechnologyPower point presentations; E-class support
Instruction OrganisationActivityWorkload per Semester
- Lectures40
- Tutorials20
- Lab assignments20
- Lab Projects20
- Autonomous study50
Course Total150

Assessment Method

I. Written final examination (70%).
- Questions of theoretical knowledge.
- Theoretical problems to be resolved.

ΙΙ. Lab work (30%).

  • Four lab exercises
    • On-the-spot multiple choice questions: 25% of the lab grade
    • Team reports: 25% of the lab grade
  • Final lab exam: 50% of the lab grade 


  • Tchobanoglous G., Kreith F. (2002) Handbook of Solid Waste Management (2nd Ed.). McGraw-Hill, USA.
  • Chandrappa R., Das D.B. (2012) Solid Waste Management: Principles and Practice. Springer, Germany.
  • Unnisa S.A, Rav S.B. (2012) Sustainable Solid Waste Management. Taylor & Francis, USA.
  • Christensen T.H. (2011) Solid Waste Technology and Management. Wiley, UK.


Course Instructor:Assistant Professor A. Giannis (Faculty- EnvEng)
Lectures:Assistant Professor A. Giannis (Faculty- EnvEng)
Tutorial exercises:E. Kastanaki (LTS - EnvEng)
Laboratory Exercises:E. Kastanaki (LTS - EnvEng), Dr. A. Papadopoulou (LTS - EnvEng)