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© Thünen-Institut/AK
[Translate to English:]
Institute of

AK Climate-Smart Agriculture


Landfills of mechanical-biologically treated waste - a source of greenhouse gases

Sampling of the landfill material
© Thünen-Institut/Roland Fuß
Sampling of the landfill material

Greenhouse gas emissions from a landfill of mechanical-biologically treated waste

Landfills of mechanical-biologically treated waste (MBT) are a source of greenhouse gas emissions. There can be a conflict of goals regarding mitigation activities: reduced methane emissions are offset by increased nitrous oxide emissions.

Background and Objective

It has been assumed that mechanical-biologically pre-treatment mitigates greenhouse gas emissions. However, greenhouse gas emissions from MBT landfills have almost not been measured so far. The project conducts one of the first emission measurements from an MBT landfill. Results of the project enable better control of waste treatment, which results in better mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Target Group

Results are aimed at MBT plant and landfill operators and provide new knowledge for national greenhouse gas inventories.


We measured emissions of methane and nitrous oxide using manual chambers,  sampled the landfill gas and analyzed conditions of nitrogen transformations within the landfill.


Our results show that, at least at the studied landfill, the waste pre-treatment sucessfully prevented methane emissions. However, the high contents of nitrogen together with aeration during tipping of the material resulted in extraordinarily high nitrous oxide emissions. This shows that future efforts should concentrate on mitigating nitrous oxide emissions, without increasing methane emissions. It might already be sufficient to swiftly compact and cover the recently deposited waste material.

Involved external Thünen-Partners

  • Technische Universität Braunschweig
    (Braunschweig, Deutschland)


1.2013 - 7.2014

More Information

Project status: finished


  1. 0

    Harborth P, Fuß R, Flessa H, Fricke K (2013) Nachweis starker N2O Hot-Spots auf einer MBA-Deponie : ein Zielkonflikt für Minimierungsstrategien von Treibhausgasemissionen? Müll Abfall 45(6):280

  2. 1

    Harborth P, Fuß R, Münnich K, Flessa H, Fricke K (2013) Spatial variability of nitrous oxide and methane emissions from an MBT landfill in operation: Strong N2O hotspots at the working face. Waste Manag 33(10):2099-2107, DOI:10.1016/j.wasman.2013.01.028

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