Physical characterization of municipal solid waste for geotechnical purposes

Dimitrios Zekkos, Edward Kavazanjian, Jonathan D. Bray, Neven Matasovic, Michael F. Riemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


A procedure to characterize municipal solid waste (MSW) for geotechnical engineering purposes is developed based on experience with waste characterization and testing. Existing MSW classification systems are reviewed briefly, and the field and laboratory waste characterization programs of two important projects are presented. Findings on the influence of the waste's physical composition on its mechanical response from these projects and recent studies of MSW are integrated to develop a waste characterization procedure for efficient collection of the relevant information on landfill operation and waste physical characteristics that are most likely to affect the geotechnical properties of MSW. A phased approach to implementation of this procedure is proposed as a best practice for the physical characterization of MSW for geotechnical purposes. The scope of the phased procedure can be adjusted to optimize the effort required to collect relevant information on a project-specific basis. The procedure includes a systematic evaluation of the moisture and organic content of MSW, because they are important factors in the geotechnical characterization of MSW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1231-1241
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 13 2010


  • Geotechnical characterization
  • Landfills
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Organic content
  • Waste
  • Waste classification
  • Water content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)


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