Waste analysis and environmental forensics

We deal with basic waste characterization and evaluation of secondary resources obtained from waste. Waste streams are characterised using established analytical methods. For the evaluation of novel materials, such as advanced materials, nanomaterials or composites, new analytical methods are developed at ABF-BOKU. This information forms the scientific basis for decisions on the type of recovery or disposal of waste. The analytical methods include sampling and preparation adapted to the respective waste characteristics, the selection and application of adequate analytical methods as well as the interpretation of the data obtained. Our own analytical techniques are supplemented by close cooperation with other institutions within and outside the BOKU. The current overview of the equipment of the laboratory and the pilot plant at ABF-BOKU can be found here

In terms of environmental forensics, we investigate impurities and pollutants in waste streams and follow them with analytical methods along their input and output paths in anthropogenic and natural systems. This enables us to draw conclusions about their sources and sinks and to assess their long-term environmental behaviour in order to derive risks. The focus here is on emerging pollutants, i.e. substances that have been used in products for years but have only recently been classified as potentially hazardous (e.g. halogenated additives in plastic recyclates or microplastics in composts). From the point of view of waste management, emerging pollutants and other pollutants reduce the quality of secondary raw materials or recycled products.
Current focal points are:

  •     Assessment of compost quality (humic substance analysis, breathability, gas formation potential)

  •     Investigation of the emission potential of waste disposal material, MBA landfill material and fermentation residues

  •     Detection of microplastics in composts and fermentation residues

  •     Composting trials on biodegradable plastics

  •     Detection of polyhalogenated additives in plastics

Mag. Dr. Christian Zafiu