Interactions of food waste compost with metals and metal-chelant complexes during soil remediation

Jingzi Beiyuan, Daniel C.W. Tsang, Nanthi S. Bolan, Kitae Baek, Yong Sik Ok, Xiang Dong Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


For removing potentially toxic elements (PTEs) from field-contaminated soils, cost-effective soil remediation has been a worldwide concern. As one of the widely employed techniques, chelant-enhanced phytoremediation can remove PTEs with marginal impact on the soil properties, yet the newly formed metal-chelant complexes cannot be completely captured and extracted by the plants. This arouses concerns about downstream migration and secondary contamination of the metal-chelant complexes and free chelant. Organic amendments, such as food waste compost (FWC), may stabilize metals and/or metal-chelant complexes, improve soil properties and plant growth, and reduce waste volume. Therefore, FWC may provide a solution for the migration of metal-chelant complexes and free chelant. Two chelants were selected in this study: EDTA (ethylene-diaminetetraacetic-acid) and its biodegradable isomer EDDS ([S,S]-ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid). The interactions between FWC and metals, metal-EDTA/metal-EDDS complexes in a field-contaminated soil (mainly by Cu, Zn, and Pb) were investigated. Batch adsorption isotherms indicated a strong adsorption capacity of FWC for uncomplexed Cu, Zn, and Pb ions. Significant adsorption of Pb-EDDS (∼100%), Zn-EDDS (>77%), and Cu-EDTA (36–76%) complexes on the FWC was found at apparent equilibrium. The adsorption capacity of Cu-EDDS (32–38%), Pb-EDTA (∼20%), and Zn-EDTA (∼0%) complexes was limited. However, the co-existence of FWC and EDDS increased the mobilization of Cu and Zn, while the co-existence of FWC and EDTA reduced the available amounts of Cu and Pb in solution. Metal speciation calculation showed that nearly all extracted Cu, Zn, and Pb were complexed with chelants in the solution, while notable amount of dissolved Fe (but not Al and Ca) was associated with dissolved organic matter. In this study, FWC can be useful for minimizing the unintended leaching of Cu- and Pb-EDTA complexes in EDTA-enhanced phytoremediation, yet it might be less suitable for the case of EDDS. A novel integration of recycled waste can enhance the effectiveness of sustainable remediation of contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-206
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 10

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors appreciate the financial support from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (PolyU 15222115 and 15223517 ) for this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Biodegradable chelants
  • EDDS
  • EDTA
  • Food waste recycling
  • Soil amendment
  • Soil remediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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