Sustainable Materials and Technologies, Volume 9, 1 September 2016,
Low-cost by-products from agricultural, household and industrial sectors have been recognized as a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment. They allow achieving the removal of pollutants from wastewater and at same time to contribute to the waste minimization, recovery and reuse. Despite numerous reviews have been published in the last few years, a direct comparison of data obtained using different sorbents is difficult nowadays because of inconsistencies in the data presentation. In this context, the aim of the study was to revise the current literature concerning the application of low-cost adsorbents for wastewater treatment highlighting, systematically, both adsorbents characteristics and adsorption capacities. For this scope, low-cost sorbents have been divided into the following five groups: (i) Agricultural and household wastes, (ii) industrial by-products, (iii) sludge, (iv) sea materials, (v) soil and ore materials and (vi) novel low-cost adsorbents. The affinity of sorbents in removing various pollutants, their applications on real wastewater, costs and considerations on their reuse after adsorption processes, has been discussed. Finally, in order to better highlights the affinity of sorbents for more pollutants (dyes, heavy metals, biorecalcitrant compounds, nitrogen and phosphate compounds), simple methodological tools such as "adsorbents-pollutants" matrices have been proposed and applied. In this manner, the adsorbent candidates for replacing commercial activated carbons have been identified.