Technologies for the management of MSW incineration ashes from gas cleaning: New perspectives on recovery of secondary raw materials and circular economy

Margarida J. Quina, Elza Bontempi, Anna Bogush, Stefan Schlumberger, Gisela Weibel, Roberto Braga, Valerio Funari, Jiri Hyks, Erik Rasmussen, Jakob Lederer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

206 Citations (Scopus)
180 Downloads (Pure)


Environmental policies in the European Union focus on the prevention of hazardous waste and aim to mitigate its impact on human health and ecosystems. However, progress is promoting a shift in perspective from environmental impacts to resource recovery. Municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) has been increasing in developed countries, thus the amount of air pollution control residues (APCr) and fly ashes (FA) have followed the same upward trend. APCr from MSWI is classified as hazardous waste in the List of Waste (LoW) and as an absolute entry (19 01 07*), but FA may be classified as a mirror entry (19 0 13*/19 01 14). These properties arise mainly from their content in soluble salts, potentially toxic metals, trace organic pollutants and high pH in contact with water. Since these residues have been mostly disposed of in underground and landfills, other possibilities must be investigated to recover secondary raw materials and products. According to the literature, four additional routes of recovery have been found: detoxification (e.g. washing), product manufacturing (e.g. ceramic products and cement), practical applications (e.g. CO 2 sequestration) and recovery of materials (e.g. Zn and salts). This work aims to identify the best available technologies for material recovery in order to avoid landfill solutions. Within this scope, six case studies are presented and discussed: recycling in lightweight aggregates, glass-ceramics, cement, recovery of zinc, rare metals and salts. Finally, future perspectives are provided to advance understanding of this anthropogenic waste as a source of resources, yet tied to safeguards for the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-542
Number of pages17
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date24 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (


  • Air pollution control residues
  • Fly ash
  • Incineration
  • Municipal solid waste
  • Recovery
  • Toxic metals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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