Municipal solid waste (MSW) is a consequence of continuous social goods production, distribution and consumption of human society. With the common goal of creating and sustaining a healthy environment, recycling of valuable components from MSW and subsequent comprehensive utilization becomes increasingly critical. Incineration or landfill disposal is not an ecological practice in the long term. Waste to value-added product development can largely mitigate MSWs’ environmental impact and carbon emissions but will require integrated process design, optimization and scale-up.
This presentation will highlight the process development we have demonstrated in converting different types of MSWs such as non-recyclable paper mix and post-consumer hygiene products, to fermentable sugars and fuel intermediates. We will provide an overview and insights into the novel technologies, markets and substrate accessibility via efficient waste stream utilization. The non-recyclable paper mix serves as a robust blending agent for biorefineries. The paper mix/corn stover blends can be efficiently pretreated in certain ionic liquid (IL) and converted to sugars using an enzyme-free process. The technology has been proven to be scalable with 600 times scale-up (6 L vs. 10 mL). Poster-consumer hygiene material has been successfully converted to fermentable sugars through a mechanical process followed by enzymatic saccharification and the process has been scaled up 50 times. This research demonstrates how MSW and MSW blend conversion and upgrading via bioprocessing can influence key pathways to address global environmental sustainability barriers.