3. Notes on the analysis and evaluation of environmental impacts

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3.1 Introductory remarks

To gain a full understanding of a waste disposal project, it is vital to determine the underlying conditions and constraints of the project, against the background of its ecological and economic effects. The project description may be based on the following criteria:

- planning history
- waste and water legislation and standards
- existing waste situation (waste production, existing plants and their functions)
- previously established objectives (e.g. from waste disposal plans, district waste management programmes etc.), evidence of demand for the planned plant
- incorporation into regional and national planning objectives and also the regional and supraregional disposal system
- reasons for choice of planned disposal system and its main components (collection containers, vehicle fleet, intermediate storage, recycling processes and facilities, plants for special waste treatment, plants for waste incineration and dumping etc.)
- alternatives (e.g. incineration/landfill, percolation water treatment suitable for landfill/co-composting in district sewage works; extension or expansion of existing plants and facilities as well as baseline state).

Further components for the evaluation of the environmental impacts of a waste disposal project are descriptions of

- the location-finding process for relevant alternatives, including any necessary socio-economic analyses of sex- and group-specific aspects of the population settled in the surrounding area or area covered by the waste disposal plant in question,
- the location comparison and results,
- relevant plants and their failure risks,
- the polluting factors of the project and
- those plants or plant components which should eventually form the object of an environmental impact study.

Major environmental impacts result from the construction and operation of the (fixed) waste disposal plants referred to below, and in the event of substantial changes to such plants or their operation:

- intermediate stores
- transfer stations
- domestic waste and special waste landfill sites
- incinerators
- thermal treatment plants, such as pyrolysis plants
- physical, chemical and biological treatment plants, in so far as these may have serious adverse environmental impacts.

The scope of the assessment must depend on the environmental relevance of the plants in question. This applies particularly to intermediate stores without hazardous waste, which may differ considerably in terms of their size and technical facilities.

In addition to the quantity, the origin and condition of the waste are crucial in terms of the disposal sequence and environmental impact. Special attention should therefore be paid to waste analysis. In view of its normally very heterogeneous composition, sampling, sample preparation and sample analysis must be carried out to obtain useful and representative results. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the relevant Regulations of the LAGA-state work group on waste ("Länderarbeitsgemeinschaft Abfall") are of particular importance (31), as are also the inspection procedure set forth in the German standard DIN 38400 ff. (32) and the designing of analytical procedures according to (33).

3.2 Waste collection and transport

The collection and transport of waste is safe, if as a result

a) the health of the general public and of personnel concerned with the equipment, vehicles and facilities is not put at risk

b) there is no lasting odour nuisance and

c) further or subsequent disposal measures are not seriously hindered.

With regard to possible noise emissions at transfer stations, the limits set forth in (34) apply.

3.3 Waste treatment

Briefly, this concerns (see also

- composting and biogas extraction plants (biological treatment) and
- physical and chemical treatment plants (sorting plants; material recovery plants; precipitation/flocculation and neutralisation plants; sludge dewatering plants etc.).

In the assessment one should take into account their contribution to saving fossil fuels, COD/BOD reduction, odour reduction, health effect.

Composting and biogas extraction plants affect the environment through the products created, namely compost or digested sludge used for agricultural purposes, and through waste gases and drainage water (1).

The main rule book used in Germany, which may also serve for guidance in other countries in the matter of compost, is LAGA's Merkblatt 10 concerning quality criteria and recommendations for use of compost made from refuse and refuse/sewage sludge (7). This specifies permitted concentrations of selected heavy metals in the soil and values to be adhered to when applying compost. This states that:

- Compost should not in principle be applied if soil analyses show that concentrations of the following heavy metals exceed any of the following limits (milligrams per kilogram air-dried soil):

  Soil value (mg/kg)
Cadmium 3
Chromium 100
Copper 100
Lead 100
Mercury 2
Nickel 50
Zinc 300

Compost may be applied in certain cases where the above figures are exceeded if, taking into account the site conditions and use, no adverse effect will be caused to the well-being of the general public. If the soil figures for cadmium and mercury are exceeded no compost should be applied.

- In case of repeated application of composts, the following concentrations (grams per hectare and year on a long-term average) should not be exceeded.

  Concentration (g/ha·a)
Cadmium 33
Chromium 2 000
Copper 2 000
Lead 2 000
Mercury 42
Nickel 330
Zinc 5 000

In the case of agricultural use of the digested sludge produced in biogas plants, the guidelines of the sewage sludge ordinance Klärschlamm-Verordnung (35) are also to be observed. These establish permitted values for concentrations of selected heavy metals in the soil and in the sludge; in addition, restrictions are imposed on the quantities of sludge which may be applied (see Table 1). Furthermore, care must be taken to ensure that the soil values in question are identical to the corresponding soil figures in the case of compost application (see above).

Table 1 - Permissible concentrations of heavy metals in accordance with the sewage sludge ordinance Klärschlamm-Verordnung

Heavy metals (HM)

Generally permitted concentrations in sewage sludge1)

Quantity permitted to be applied1)

Maximum permitted heavy metal concentration upon application of sewage sludge




g(ha·3a) g/(ha)






1) related to dry sludge residue

At least in temperate zones, if the regulations contained in the sewage sludge ordinance are complied with, no long-term harm will be inflicted on soil, plants, animals and humans through the use of sewage sludge in agriculture; moreover, in particular, the health of people or animals will not be harmed by the consumption of foodstuffs or fodder produced on land to which the sludge is applied (36).

With regard to specific compost tests, reference should be made to the appendices to (7). In addition, the test procedures mentioned in 3.1 must be observed in so far as applicable.

In the case of biological waste treatment plants, for noise emissions the limits of TA-Lärm [Technical Instructions on Noise Abatement (34)] provide evaluation guidelines; for emissions into the air the limits set forth in TA-Luft [Technical Instructions on Air Quality Control (37)] are appropriate; for wastewater disposal see in particular the limit values contained in the appendices to the Allgemeine Rahmen-VwV [General Administrative Framework Regulation on Minimum Requirements for the Discharge of Wastewater into Waters (39)] issued under § 7a WHG (German Federal Water Act (38)). The quoted regulations apply similarly to physical and chemical waste treatment plants .

3.4 Intermediate storage

This is likewise subject to the regulations mentioned in 3.1 and 3.3 concerning test procedures and the establishment of limits in relation to potential environmental impacts.

3.5 Waste dumping

To examine and evaluate the environmental impact of a landfill site, it is vital that the delivery of waste be carefully monitored (delivery notes, entry controls). If deficiencies and irregularities occur here, constant incorrect filling of the landfill site will produce potential hazards quite different from those anticipated in the original planning, i.e. in the original positive-negative brief drawn up for the waste to be sent to the landfill site. This can be remedied by more frequent unannounced sampling - and possible subsequent analysis - of the waste on its way from the producer to the landfill site in order to determine its characteristic features (appearance, consistency, content etc.). Reliable and practical testing and analytical procedures will prove extremely useful in this respect. See also 3.1 and 3.2.

Limits for the permissibility of dumping at special waste landfill sites are established in Germany under TA-Abfall, Teil 1 (Technical Instructions on Waste Management, Part 1(27)).

For noise emissions from landfill sites, the limits set forth in (34) provide guidelines; for landfill percolation water treatment, refer to the limits contained in Appendix 51 to the Allgemeine Rahmen-VwV (39) and for questions relating to landfill gases, see the explanations and requirements of the LAGA document on landfill gas Informationsschrift "Deponiegas"(30)).

3.6 Waste recycling

See also 3.3 (Waste Treatment)

3.7 Waste incineration

The main emission to be considered when assessing the environmental impact of a waste incinerator is the flue gas emission. Because of the normally heterogeneous composition of waste (e.g. of domestic waste), the incineration must be carried out with a high level of excess air in order to achieve thorough combustion of the incineration material and of the flue gases. In the case of domestic waste incineration, the excess air coefficient is approximately 2; this produces 5,000 to 6,000 m3 of crude gas per tonne of incineration material. With the crude gas from domestic waste incineration,

- gaseous pollutants (mainly HCl, HF, SO2, NOx, CO and CxHy)
- dust pollutants (mainly heavy metals such as Pb, Cd, Hg, Sb, Be, Cr, Ni) and
- organic, mainly gaseous substances (such as PCB, HCB, chlorophenols, but also dioxins and furans)

are emitted. Under TA-Luft (37), the following limits apply to the clean gas:

- dust < 30 mg/m3
- carbon monoxide < 0.10 mg/m
- organic substances (counted as total C) < 20 mg/m
- sulphur oxides (counted as SO
2) < 0.10 mg/m3
- halogen compounds

* anorg. chlorine compound (counted as HCl) < 50 mg/m3
* anorg. fluorine compounds (counted as HF) < 2 mg/m3

Further details, particularly regarding sampling and measurements and also the applicable general conditions, can be found in TA-Luft (37). This also provides information on emission propagation.

For noise emissions from incinerators, the limits indicated in (34) may serve as a guideline; in the case of wastewater treatment and disposal, decisions must be made on a case-to-case basis according to the current state of the art (the appendices to the Allgemeine Rahmen-VwV (39) may indirectly serve as a guide). Where the eluate values permit, the slag should be used for building purposes (see (40)).


4. Interaction with other sectors

Because of their geographical and physical impact, supply and disposal projects must stand in a clear and plausible relationship with other environmental and geographical areas. This is particularly true of waste disposal projects (WD projects), bearing in mind the potential danger posed by the domestic, commercial and industrial waste to be disposed of.

Areas which may be affected overall by WD projects, and the related possible conflicts of use and interactive effects include, in particular, the following:

- soil; agriculture and forestry
- water (surface water, groundwater); water resources management, hydraulic engineering,
- water production, water supply, wastewater disposal
- nature conservation, countryside preservation, recreational resources
- urban/community planning, industrial development
- monuments and heritage
- traffic planning (roads, railways, waterways, flight paths)
- existing/future regional planning, land-use and development planning; activity planning
- distance problems in existing and planned residential areas
- availability of land and soil.

If conflicts of use occur, the options must be weighed up. The standard against which these are judged is not the status quo, i.e. the structures and services existing prior to execution of the waste disposal project, but rather the development potential of the area in question. The criterion is thus the capacity and not the present performance (41). This approach stresses the importance of identifying and assessing the soil potential, the biotope potentials and the hydrogeological potentials (in terms of both quantity and quality).

Adjustment, alleviation and compensatory measures may provide crucial help in arriving at the environmentally ideal overall solution.


5. Summary assessment of environmental relevance

For any waste disposal project, in the interests of minimising the environmental impact, the following basic rules apply (see also (45)):

· Waste avoidance, i.e. preventing it being created in the first place, particularly in the field of industrial production, takes precedence over recycling.

· Recycling takes precedence over other forms of disposal.

· Waste or residues which cannot be recycled are to be disposed of properly, i.e. in line with environmental requirements.

Ecologically and economically favourable solutions can be achieved anywhere by applying these principles, provided they are adapted to the local conditions in a technically appropriate way.

To sum up, the following may be said with regard to the environmental relevance of waste disposal projects:

The plants of such a project must be planned, built and operated in accordance with the generally accepted rules or the state of the art, e.g. in the case of air purification plants (see § 5 BImSchG - German Federal Immission Control Act (4)) or wastewater treatment plants, for the purpose of eliminating hazardous substances for example (see § 7a WHG - Federal Water Act - (38)). Special measures are always necessary in the case of waste incinerators and landfill sites, especially where the distance from residential buildings is relatively small or a large area of land is occupied. The main reasons for this in the case of incinerators are the pollution potential of the flue gas emissions and in the case of landfill sites the long-term groundwater pollution potential of the deposited waste.

If not intended for special waste and if there is no possibility of special waste being introduced, the other installations in waste disposal projects, such as intermediate stores, transfer stations, composting works, physical/chemical treatment plants etc. are rated as comparatively less environmentally polluting, as their effects are usually less long-lasting, less numerous and less far-reaching, especially if particular attention has been paid to noise reduction and odour-abatement at the planning stage.


6. References

(1) Law implementing the council directive of June 27, 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (85/336/EEC) Feb 12, 1990 Article 1: Law on the assessment of the effects on the environment.

(2) Gesetz über die Vermeidung und Entsorgung von Abfällen (Abfallgesetz-AbfG) vom 27. August 1986; BGBl. I (Federal Law Gazette I), p. 1410.

(3) Friesecke, G.: Die allgemein anerkannten Regeln der Technik beim wasserrechtlichen Vollzug, Wasser und Boden, 5/1985; Verlag Paul Parey, Hamburg.

(4) Gesetz zum Schutz vor schädlichen Umwelteinwirkungen durch Luftverunreinigungen, Geräusche, Erschütterungen und ähnliche Vorgänge (BundesImmissionsschutzgesetz - BImSchG) 22. May 1990, BGBl. I (Federal Law Gazette I) p. 881.

(5) Hösel, G., Schenkel, W., Schnurer, H.: Müll-Handbuch (may be supplemented); Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.

(6) GTZ GmbH: Community Participation and Hygiene Education in Water Supply and Sanitation (CPHE); 10/1989.

(7) Merkblatt 10, Qualitätskriterien und Anwendungsempfehlungen für Kompost aus Müll und Müllklärschlamm; LAGA, Umweltbundesamt [German Federal Environmental Agency]; reprinted in (5).

(8) EC Directive: Protection of the environment, and in particular of the soil, when sewage sludge is used in agriculture; 86/278/EEC Official Journal No. L181 dated 4.7.1986 p. 6.

(9) Bundesminister für Forschung und Technologie [German Federal Minister for Research and Technology], Bonn, 1984: Abfallverwertung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland; bearbeitet von Bernhard Jäger, Prof. Jäger & Partner - Beratende Ingenieure, Berlin.

(10) Thomé-Kozmiensky, Karl J. (Ed.): Recycling von Haushaltsabfällen; Bd. 1; EF-Verlag für Energie- und Umwelttechnik, Berlin, 1987.

(11) Thomé-Kozmiensky, Karl J.: Loll, Ulrich (Ed.): Recycling von Klär-schlamm, Bd. 1 und 2; EF-Verlag für Energie- und Umwelttechnik, Berlin, 1987 and 1989.

(12) Thomé-Kozmiensky, Karl J. (Ed.): Müllverbrennung und Umwelt, Bd. 1, 2 und 3; EF-Verlag für Energie- und Umwelttechnik, Berlin 1985 and 1989.

(13) Verordnung über das Aufbringen von Gülle und Jauche (Gülleverordnung) 13 March 1984; GV. NW. p.210 / SGV NW.2061 incl. Verwaltungsvorschriften zum Vollzug der v.g. VO (RdErl. d. Ministers für Umwelt, Raumordnung und Landwirtschaft NW [Minister for the Environment, Regional Planning and Agriculture of the Land North-Rhine Westphalia] 7 June 1985, -AIII2-890-31446-.

(14) World Bank Technical Paper (WBTP) 30: Cointreau, Sandra J.; Gunnerson, Charles G.; Huls, John M.; Seldman, Neil N.: Recycling from Municipal Refuse: A State-of-the-Art Review and Annotated Bibliography; 1984.

(15) WBTP 31: Lund, Robert T.: Remanufacturing: The Experience of the United States and Implications for Developing Countries; 1984.

(16) WBTP 37: Abert, James G.: Municipal Waste Processing in Europe, A Status Report on Selected Materials and Energy Recovery Projects; 1985.

(17) Koch, Thilo C.; Seeberger, J., Petrik, H.: Ökologische Müllverwertung, Handbuch für optimale Abfallkonzepte, 3. Auflage; Verlag C.F. Müller, Karlsruhe, 1991.

(18) Sutter, H. (Ed.): Vermeidung und Verwertung von Abfällen: EF-Verlag für Energie- und Umwelttechnik, Berlin, 1989.

(19) Zweckverband Schwabach ZVSSM: Umlenkung von Sonderabfällen aus der chemisch-physikalischen Behandlung in die Verwertung am Beispiel buntmetallhaltiger Abfallstoffe; Forschungsbericht, Umweltbundesamt [German Federal Environmental Agency], Berlin, 1988.

(20) The World Bank, Washington D.C. (S.J. Cointreau): Environmental Management of Urban Solid Wastes in Developing Countries, a Project Guide; 1982.

(21) GTZ (Kloss): Stand, Potentiale und Bedeutung der Biogastechnologie auf dem Gebiet der anaeroben Reinigung von dünnflüssigen Abwässern sowie Maßnahmen zur Einführung dieser Technologie in den ländlichen Regionen der Dritten Welt; Report, 1990.

(22) WBTP 49: Gunnerson, Charles G.; Stuckey, David, C.: Anaerobic Digestion, Principles and Practices for Biogas Systems; 1986.

(23) WBTP 57: Obeng, Letitia, A.; Wright, Frederick W.: The Co-composting of Domestic Solid and Human Wastes; 1987.

(24) Dalzell, H.W.; Gray, K.R.; Biddlestone, A.J.: "Composting in Tropical Agriculture", 2nd printing 1981, Intern. Inst. of Biological Husbandry, England.

(25) Parr, J.F.; Colacicco D.; "Organic Materials as Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners", UNEP Industry and Environment, 1982.

(26) Chaney, R.L.; "Sludge Management; Risk Assessment for Plant and Animal Life", pp. 19-32, in: Proc. 1980 Spring Seminar on Sludge Management in the Wash. D.C. Metropolitan Area. American Society of Civil Engineers National Capital Section, 1980.

(27) Gesamtfassung der Zweiten Allgemeinen Verwaltungsvorschrift zum Abfallgesetz (TA-Abfall) 12 March 1991; GMBl. (joint ministerial cirucular) p. 137.

(28) Deponie-Merkblatt: LAGA, UBA, VKS; reprinted in (5).

(29) Hösel, G., Schenkel, W., Schnurer: Müll-Handbuch (may be supplemented), 4587 ff. Sickerwasser auf Hausmülldeponien; Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.

(30) Informationsschrift Deponiegas: LAGA, UBA; reprinted in (5).

(31) Richtlinien für das Vorgehen bei physikalischen und chemischen Unter-suchungen im Zusammenhang mit der Beseitigung von Abfällen: LAGA; reprinted in (5).

(32) DIN 38400 FF.: Deutsche Einheitsverfahren zur Wasser-, Abwasser- und Schlammuntersuchung; Beuth Verlag GmbH, Berlin.

(33) Ministerium für Umwelt, Raumordnung und Landwirtschaft und Ministerium für Wirtschaft, Mittelstand und Technologie NRW [Ministry for the Environment, Regional Planning and Agriculture of the Land of North-Rhine Westphalia]: Analysenverfahren für Untersuchungen im Zusammenhang mit der Abfallentsorgung und mit Altlasten, Gem. RdErl. 25.3.1988.

(34) Technische Anleitung zum Schutz gegen Lärm - TA-Lärm; Bundesanzeiger (Federal Gazette) Nr. 137 26 July 1968 (Beilage).

(35) Klärschlammverordnung - AbfKlärV 25 June 1982; BGBl. I(Federal Law Gazette I), p. 734.

(36) Hösel, G., Schenkel, W., Schnurer: Müll-Handbuch (may be supplemented), 3356 ff., Landwirtschaftliche Klärschlammverwertung; Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.

(37) Technische Anleitung zur Reinhaltung der Luft - TA-Luft, 27 February 1986; GMBl. (joint ministerial circular) p. 95.

(38) Gezetz zur Ordnung des Wasserhaushalts (Wasserhaushaltsgesetz - WHG) in the version published on 23 September 1986, BGBl. I (Federal Law Gazette I), p. 1529.

(39) Allgemeine Rahmen-Verwaltungsvorschrift über Mindestanforderungen an das Einleiten von Abwasser in Gewässer - Rahmen-AbwasserVwV - 8 September 1989 (GMBl. (joint ministerial circular) p. 518), amended on 19 December 1989 (GMBl. p. 798) and appendices 1 ff., p. 521.

(40) Ministerium für Umwelt, Raumordnung und Landwirtschaft und Ministerium für Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr NRW: Anforderungen an die Verwendung von Altbaustoffen (Recycling-Baustoffen) und industriellen Nebenprodukten im Erd- und Straßenbau aus wasserwirtschaftlicher Sicht, gem. Rd.Erl. 30.4.1991.

(41) Gassner, E.: Die medien- und verfahrensübergreifende Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfung, Umwelt- und Planungsrecht 1990/10; Kommunalschriftenverlag Jehle, Munich.

(42) EC Directive: Assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment; 85/337/EEC Official Journal No. L 175/40 July 5,1985.

(43) Schemel, H.-J.: Die Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfung von Großprojekten; Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin; New edition in preparation.

(44) Storm, P.-C. (Ed.): Handbuch der Umweltverträglichkeitsprüfung (HdUVP), may be supplemented; Erich Schmidt Verlag, Berlin.

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