Re-use of regional waste in sustainably designed soils

Principal Investigator(s):

David Saftner, Associate Professor & Depart. Head, UMD-Civil Engineering


  • Meijun Cai, Research Technical Manager, Env Eng, UMD-Nat Resources Rsrch Inst
  • Marsha Patelke, Former Researcher, UMD-NRRI

Project summary:

Byproducts and waste materials generated by mineral, forestry, agricultural, and industrial sectors have the potential to be recycled, reused, and/or combined with traditional materials to create a sustainable source of value-added soil and/or soil amendments. This project will identify, select, and characterize regional waste, byproducts, and commercially available materials to create designed soils (such as topsoil specified in MnDOT spec 3877) or to be used in borrow pit restoration. If successful, reuse of these materials will reduce disposal and/or storage of solid wastes while providing a site-specific designed soil or soil amendment, as well as providing financial advantages for the industries that generate these byproduct materials. The goal of this project is to identify, characterize, and combine regionally available byproducts to design soil mixture for site-specific requirements. Potential byproducts may include:

  • wood waste from the timber and paper industry;
  • mineral tailings from iron mining;
  • dredge sediment from Duluth-Superior Harbor and Mississippi River;
  • compost; and
  • sludge, e.g. sewage sludge from water treatment plants.

The investigators see potential for manufacturing soil from regionally-generated byproducts (solid wastes) to help mitigate soil quality issues while reducing solid waste disposal through beneficial reuse.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2020012
  • Start date: 05/2019
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment

Reports or Products: