Author(s): Kelessidis A, Stasinakis AS
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Abstract Municipal wastewater treatment results to the production of large quantities of sewage sludge, which requires proper and environmentally accepted management before final disposal. In European Union, sludge management remains an open and challenging issue for the Member States as the relative European legislation is fragmentary and quite old, while the published data concerning sludge treatment and disposal in different European countries are often incomplete and inhomogeneous. The main objective of the current study was to outline the current situation and discuss future perspectives for sludge treatment and disposal in EU countries. According to the results, specific sludge production is differentiated significantly between European countries, ranging from 0.1 kg per population equivalent (p.e.) and year (Malta) to 30.8 kg per p.e. and year (Austria). More stringent legislations comparing to European Directive 86/278/EC have been adopted for sludge disposal in soil by several European countries, setting lower limit values for heavy metals as well as limit values for pathogens and organic micropollutants. A great variety of sludge treatment technologies are used in EU countries, while differences are observed between Member States. Anaerobic and aerobic digestion seems to be the most popular stabilization methods, applying in 24 and 20 countries, respectively. Mechanical sludge dewatering is preferred comparing to the use of drying beds, while thermal drying is mainly applied in EU-15 countries (old Member States) and especially in Germany, Italy, France and UK. Regarding sludge final disposal, sludge reuse (including direct agricultural application and composting) seems to be the predominant choice for sludge management in EU-15 (53\% of produced sludge), following by incineration (21\% of produced sludge). On the other hand, the most common disposal method in EU-12 countries (new Member States that joined EU after 2004) is still landfilling. Due to the obligations set by Directive 91/271/EC, a temporary increase of sludge amounts that are disposed in landfills is expected during the following years in EU-12 countries. Beside the above, sludge reuse in land and sludge incineration seem to be the main practices further adopted in EU-27 (all Member States) up to 2020. The reinforcement of these disposal practices will probably result to adoption of advanced sludge treatment technologies in order to achieve higher pathogens removal, odors control and removal of toxic compounds and ensure human health and environmental protection. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Waste Manag
and referenced in Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation