To ensure stability of a construction the physical properties of its components have to
be well known. In a landfill, waste presents the largest structural element and controls
both the stability and integrity of the lining system. In spite of this critical role there is a
dearth of knowledge on behaviour of waste as an engineering material. Waste
variability and changes in waste stream aggravate the assessment of waste
In a literature review the main influences on shear behaviour of municipal solid waste
(MSW) were identified. Design values and recommendation for shear parameter were
summarised. To assess mechanical behaviour in a systematic way the use of a
classification system was deemed crucial for a comparison of different findings from
literature and a categorisation of waste in regard to its composition. A framework for a
classification system was introduced. Main elements of a comprehensive classification
system were identified in a literature review and discussed, and data from literature
was applied to the classification framework. For the validation of a classification
system, municipal solid waste was examined in an in-situ waste sorting analysis and
also applied to the framework.
The findings from the waste sorting and the classification system were also used to
develop a family of synthetic waste to gradually examine the influencing factors on
waste mechanical behaviour. For this, the materials, size ranges and shapes of waste
components identified in the waste sorting analysis were reduced to a minimum but
still representative amount. A range of synthetic waste compositions was engineered
and tested in a large-scale shear device. Compression tests were also conducted in a
large compression cell. The results from the laboratory testing were compared to
values from the literature and MSW mechanical behaviour was subsequently
discussed in view to potential changes from changing waste streams.
The results from shear and compression tests (constrained and shear modulus) on
synthetic waste were linked to the classification system and trends of the mechanical
behaviour in relation to the tested synthetic waste compositions were identified.
A framework for classifying MSW and comparing waste mechanical behaviour was
presented and demonstrated. A family of synthetic wastes was engineered and tested
in shear and compression tests. The results were comparable to values from the
literature. Further research is recommended to refine the synthetic waste and the
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.