This paper presents a general overview of the current municipal solid waste (MSW) management in Gumushane Province, Turkey. In order to characterize the solid waste stream in the Municipality of Gumushane, a long-term study was conducted over a 52-week period between the spring of 2004 and the winter of 2005. In this study, percentage of components and specific weight of the MSW, the composting parameters (moisture content, total organic carbon, total nitrogen and pH), organic matter content, calorific value and the heavy metal concentrations (Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn, Fe, Mn, Co) of the compostable wastes sorted from the mixed MSW were determined and evaluated. In Gumushane, a mean of 70 toils of MSW are generated each day or 1 kg/day/capita. Approximately 4500 kg of the MSW were collected and sorted in a year, and the mean specific weight of these is 308 kg/m(3). Approximately 30% of the MSW generated is compostable wastes and the yearly mean moisture content, organic matter content, C/N ratio and pH of these are 78%, 92.1%, 21.6/1 and 4.73, respectively, and approximately 24%, of the MSW consists of recyclable materials. The recommended system deals with maximizing recycling and minimizing landfilling of the MSW, and consists of separation at source, collection, sorting, recycling, composting and sanitary landfilling. Heavy metal concentrations of the compostable wastes from the open dump were determined to decrease in the following order: Fe > Mn > Zn > Cr > Cu > Pb > Ni > Cd > Co. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.