Treatment of Sewage Sludge Compost Leachates on a Green Waste Biopile: A Case Study for an On-Site Application


  • Ibrahim Irka Chaher
  • Prudent Pascale
  • Théraulaz Frédéric
  • Farnet da Silva Anne-Marie
  • Asia Laurence
  • Gori Didier
  • Vassalo Laurent
  • Durand Amandine
  • Demelas Carine
  • Höhener Patrick
  • Wong-Wah-Chung Pascal


  • Compost leachate treatment reuse on site sewage sludge green waste
  • Compost
  • Leachate treatment
  • Reuse on site
  • Sewage sludge
  • Green waste

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This work proposes a suitable treatment for the leachates from a sewage sludge composting process using a specific windrow (biopile). The biopile's evolution and organic content degradation were followed for 2 months with regular leachate spraying to assess the physico-chemical and biological impacts, and determine the risk of enrichment with certain monitored pollutants. The final objective was the valorization of the biopile substrates in the composting process, while respecting the quality standards of use in a circular economy way. Classical physico-chemical parameters (pH, conductivity, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total dissolved nitrogen (TDN), etc.) were measured in the leachates and in the water-extractable and dry-solid fractions of the biopile, and the catabolic evolution of the microorganisms (diversity and activities), as well as the enrichment with persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (prioritized PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls)), were determined. The results showed that the microbial populations that were already present in the biopile, and that are responsible for biodegradation, were not affected by leachate spraying. Even when the studied compost leachate was highly concentrated with ammonium nitrogen (10.4 gN L −1 on average), it significantly decreased in the biopile after 2 weeks. A study on the evolution of the isotopic signature (δ 15 N) confirmed the loss of leachate nitrogen in its ammoniacal form. The bio-physico-chemical characteristics of the biopile at the end of the experiment were similar to those before the first spraying with leachate. Moreover, no significant enrichment with contaminants (metal trace elements, volatile fatty acids, or persistent organic pollutants) was observed. The results show that it would be possible for composting platforms to implement this inexpensive and sustainable process for the treatment of leachates.

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