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By use of refuse columns, it was shown that, at appropriate organic loading rates, the co-disposal of a synthetic brewery wastewater with refuse stimulated methane production and did not reduce leachate quality, in terms of pH or volatile fatty acid concentrations. When the application rate was doubled, from imposed dilution rate (D) 0·025 to 0·056 h−1, there was no breakthrough of volatile fatty acids and methane production was promoted. However, when the same total organic load was achieved by doubling the organic strength of the wastewater, but maintaining D = 0·025 h−1, leachate quality was temporarily reduced, with elevated concentrations of acetate and propionate.