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Remscheid pilot project: evaluation of a large scale trial of utilizing biodegradable waste bags for biowaste collection and treatment

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Separate collection of organic waste may be considered as an integral part of contemporary waste management schemes. In this function it became widely accepted in the last ten years. It pursues the idea of a recycling economy according to the European hierarchy of waste - prevent, reduce, recycle - and is aimed at closing nutrient cycles.

Nevertheless, separate collection at source essentially demands the individual household's willingness to participate in the collection scheme. Therefore, the systems practical realisation requires highly advanced public awareness raising measures. Inconveniences related to source separation of organic wastes include the necessity to place a separate container for organic waste collection within the household and the cleaning of this container which is particularly prone to odour emissions and other nuisances. The effort required to transport the organic wastes from the households to the biowaste bin conveniently is of significant relevance to the individual households willingness to participate in the separate collection schemes, especially in neighbourhoods of high rise apartment buildings.  Despite the obvious ecological justification of separate biowaste collection inconvenient handling results in a decrease of acceptance of the collection scheme. Having to handle dirty and odour-emitting collection containers raises general resentment and sanitary complaints.

These were driving forces to develop appropriate waste bags of biodegradable materials. Initially, the bags consisted of paper which had the tendency to become too wet when being filled with organic wastes, resulting in the danger of tearing. In consequence, the development of waste bags of biodegradable polymers followed. The first generation of those waste bags did not entirely fulfil the waste management's requirements of biological degradation, thus creating a lot of reservation against biodegradable polymers among waste management decision makers.

The new generation of biodegradable waste bags consists of biodegradable polymers that proved their biodegradability by means of an official testing procedure according to DIN V 54900. This ensures a sufficient resistance to tearing of the bags during waste collection. The bags are generally suitable to increase collection convenience and to reduce resentments caused by sanitary complaints.

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