D.6 Surface Disposal and Sanitary Landfill

Surface Disposal refers to the storage of sludge, faeces or other materials that cannot be used elsewhere. Sanitary Landfills are land disposal sites, designed to protect the environment from pollution. Once the material has been taken to a Surface Disposal site or a Sanitary Landfill, it is not used later.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.

Sanitary Landfills are designed for solid waste as well as sludge and other materials. Surface Disposal is the disposal primarily of sludge, but can also include dry cleansing materials. As cleansing materials cannot always be disposed of with water-based products, they are at times separated and must be disposed of separately. When there is no demand for the use of sludge, it can be placed in monofills ( sludge-only Sanitary Landfills) or heaped into permanent piles. Temporary storage before Surface Disposal contributes to further dehydration of the product  and the die-off of pathogens before final disposal.

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.

Design Considerations

Landfilling sludge together with municipal solid waste (MSW) is not recommended as it reduces the life of a landfill, which are generally designed for noxious materials. As opposed to more centralised MSW landfills, Surface Disposal sites can be situated close to where sludge is generated and treated, limiting the need for long transport distances. With Surface Disposal there is generally no limit to the quantity of sludge that can be applied to the surface since nutrient loads or agronomic rates are not a concern. However, the likelihood and danger of groundwater contamination must be considered. More advanced Surface Disposal systems may incorporate a liner and leachate collection system, with subsequent treatment of the leachate, to prevent nutrients and contaminants from entering the groundwater. In a Sanitary Landfill, the gas produced can be collected and used for combustion or energy production. Sites for temporary storage facilities should be covered to avoid rewetting by rainwater and the generation of additional leachate.

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
The liquid fraction that is separated from the solid component by gravity filtration through a media (e.g., liquid that drains from drying
beds).
Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.

Materials

For more advanced systems, leachate piping and liner materials are needed and possibly piping to collect the gas produced. For some landfill uses it is advised to cover the waste and therefore a waterproof cover is needed.

The liquid fraction that is separated from the solid component by gravity filtration through a media (e.g., liquid that drains from drying
beds).

Applicability

Where sludge use is not possible, its contained and controlled storage is preferable to uncontrolled dumping. Sludge storage may, in some cases, be a good intermediate step to further dry and sanitise sludge and generate a safe, acceptable product. Surface Disposal and storage can be used in almost every climate and environment, although they may not be feasible where there is frequent flooding or where the groundwater table is high. Surface Disposal and Sanitary Landfills can be suitable options for sludge disposal during an acute response phase, if there is land available away from human contact and waterbodies. Immediate Surface Disposal sites can later be upgraded to more advanced Sanitary Landfills by retrofitting leachate piping and lining materials for groundwater protection. An engineered Sanitary Landfill needs expert technical design. A simple Surface Disposal site will have a negative long-term effect on the environment, but can be a suitable short-term intervention during a crisis.

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
The liquid fraction that is separated from the solid component by gravity filtration through a media (e.g., liquid that drains from drying
beds).
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.
Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.

Operation and Maintenance

Staff should ensure that only appropriate materials are disposed of at the site and must maintain control over the traffic and hours of operation. Workers should wear appropriate personal protective equipment.

Health and Safety

If a Surface Disposal and storage site is protected (e.g. by a robust fence) and located far from the public, there should be no risk of contact or nuisance. Adequate siting and design should prevent the contamination of groundwater resources by leachate. Vermin and pooling water can exacerbate odour and vector problems and should be prevented at disposal or storage sites.

Water that is located beneath the earth’s surface.
The liquid fraction that is separated from the solid component by gravity filtration through a media (e.g., liquid that drains from drying
beds).
An organism (most commonly an insect) that transmits a disease to a host. For example, flies are vectors as they can carry and transmit pathogens from faeces to humans.

Costs

As land requirements are substantial for Sanitary Landfills and Surface Disposal, the associated costs can be substantial. Additional costs for operating and maintaining the facility need to be considered.

Social Considerations

Sanitary Landfills and Surface Disposal sites can be constructed and managed with the help of local communities. However, these sites should be located away from population centres for protection of public health. Where informal economies are built around scavenging landfills, the participants in the informal economy should be effectively informed of the dangers that infectious landfill wastes, including human waste, can pose to their health.

Fact Sheet Overview

Inputs

Compost
Dried Faeces
Dry Cleansing Materials
Pit Humus
Pre-Treatment Products
Sludge

Outputs


Response Phase

Acute Response + +
Stabilisation +
Recovery +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Suitable

Application Level

Household +
Neighbourhood +
City + +

Water-based or Dry Technology

Water-Based & Dry

Management Level

Household +
Shared + +
Public + +

Technical Complexity

Medium

Functional Group

Use and / or Disposal

Required Space

High

Objectives & Key Features

• Safe disposal

Strength & Weakness

  • May prevent uncontrolled disposal
  • Storage may render the product more hygienic
  • Can make use of vacant or abandoned land
  • Low technical skills required for operation and maintenance
  • Requires large land area
  • Potential leaching of nutrients and contaminants into groundwater
  • Odours may be noticeable, depending on prior treatment
  • May require special spreading equipment

Selected References

Information on faecal sludge management, bio-solids treatment and management

Strande, L., Ronteltap, M., Brdjanovic, D. (2014): Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) book - Systems Approach for Implementation and Operation. IWA Publishing, London, UK

EPA (1999): Biosolids Generation, Use, and Disposal in the United States. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C., US

Design guidelines for sanitary landfills with focus on siting criteria

Cointreau, S. (2004): Sanitary Landfill Design and Siting Criteria., Washington D.C., US

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