MBT: the answer to Britain's waste problems?

Over the past year, MBT has gone from being an acronym few people understood to the most talked about form of municipal waste management in Britain. It is heralded as the solution to local authorities' waste problems, enabling them to meet targets for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. Several plants will be up and running by 2006. But is it really the solution many authorities have been looking for? The answer seems to be dependent on the development of markets for refuse-derived fuel and whether such "fuels" become eligible for renewable obligation certificates.

A few years ago, only a few people involved with UK waste management knew of mechanical/biological treatment, the umbrella term for processes that use mechanical and biological techniques to sort, separate and treat municipal waste.

The term can be applied to a number of different combinations of mechanical sorting, drying and biological processes. The main distinction between different MBT systems is made on the basis of the sequence of process steps and whether the biological treatment is designed to produce stabilised waste or composted material.

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