Landfill Mining Techniques - Potential in Greece & EU
Within the framework of the LIFE+ reclaim project, a report entitled “Landfill Mining Techniques - Potential in Greece & EU” was created in order to present and assess all available information regarding recent and past international applications of landfill or waste mining (LFM), with the specific aim to use the Report as an extended textbook on objectives, methods and machinery, as well as on the results and needs for further improvements.
This assessment will be used for knowledge dissemination and specification of the pilot demonstration unit, which will be installed in the Polygyros Landfill. The assessment includes extensive data mining on older and recent literature, the machinery market and the specific experience of landfill operators on technical and operational aspects of regulated and unregulated landfills.
Moreover, findings from relevant trips to other EU countries (namely Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands - see photo on the right) are incorporated to complete the picture of LFM with actual experiences from on-site visits and interviews with experts.
Among the most useful results of the report is the classification of LFM into three major categories:
LFM as tool for environmental policy: This approach introduces the new concept of Sustainable Materials Management and the broader shift to a Circular economy. From this point of view, landfills are no longer considered as a final destination for waste but as a part of the materials cycle. The potential valorisation of the disposed waste is an important aspect in the assessment of the environmental impact of landfills. It is based on the three step approach of Mapping-Surveying-Mining. The main characteristic of this approach, which differentiates it from the other, is that it is never applied alone but as a secondary activity in a broader rehabilitation – restoration plan for brownfields and depleted areas or redevelopment schemes. In this sense, LFM is used as a means of obtaining economics benefits from activities that involve costs but pose positive social externalities.
LFM as waste valorization opportunity: It is generally known as the Temporary Storage concept, which can be combined with the complementary concept of Sustainable Landfill. For Temporary Storage, delivery and excavation in bulk is the easiest and cheapest method. Storage can be performed relatively dry, so there is no need for storage in bales. In landfill operations, compactors are used. The separate storage of materials is of course limited by space and the daily organisation and variation in delivery does not allow to create a multitude of separate storage cells. This could be organised differently if more space and a guaranteed delivery (on long term) would be available. According to researchers, selective storage can be organised based on the following: (1) Partitioning in groups which can be valorised as a whole, that is division of the Temporary Storage site in cells; (2) Handle materials in daily or weekly uniform amounts; and (3) Create an inventory of materials by location and construction of a 2D or 3D model.
LFM as a future possibility: This model does not exclude LFM from the waste management process, nevertheless, many researchers think that the market (technology for valorization and sales market ) is not ripe for such an approach, simply because: (i) there is no demand for recycled materials that can support LFM; (ii) there is luck of technical advancements for full exploitation which makes the attempt futile; and (iii) there is evidence that storing waste may contribute to CO2 sequestration instead of CO2 production (as claimed by other scientists).
Technical Study for the Pilot Unit of Solid Waste Management at the Polygyros Landfill
The Greek regional authorities required this report to issue the necessary permit for the pilot demonstration unit.
The study includes an assessment of the existing environmental permit of the Polygyros Landfill as well as an environmental report on the scope and probable environmental impacts of the Project activities (Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA). In particular, the study focuses on the description of the pilot demonstration unit arrangement, the presentation of the current environmental conditions of the immediate area and an assessment of the potential impacts of the pilot unit on the environment. Maps and photos are also included.
The Reclaim Team elaborated this report (available only in Greek) and submitted the dossier to the competent authorities. The Permit was finally given to the unit on the 1st of April.
Baseline Environmental and Social Conditions Report
This Report describes and analyses the Baseline Environmental and Social Conditions of the study area where the main actions of the LIFE+ reclaim project are taking place. This essential report defines geographically the immediate and broader Study Area and gives an extensive analysis of the current conditions, focusing on:
The Abiotic Environment: Climate and Meteorology, Morphology and Llandscape, Geology, Soil characteristics and Aquatic systems
The Biotic Environment: Conservation status, Flora and Fauna
The Manmade Environment: main Land Uses, Town Planning, History of the area, Archaeological sites, Social conditions, Financial conditions, general Demographics, Technical Infrastructure, Air and Acoustic environment and Anthropogenic stresses.
Also, the recognized Environmental Trends that exist in the study area are discussed and how they can affect the environment in the future.
Environmental and Social Indicators
In order to measure the progress of the project and any environmental and social impacts, the Reclaim Team has elaborated two reports to establish indicators. An indicator is an observed value representative of a phenomenon of study. In general, indicators quantify information by aggregating different and multiple data and processing the resulting information. In short, indicators simplify information that can help to reveal complex phenomena.
The establishment of indicators fulfills the following four criteria:
Conceptual relevance, i.e. the indicator must provide information that is relevant to concerns about environmental condition. The selection of an indicator is obvious from the assessment question and from professional judgment. However, a conceptual model is helpful to demonstrate and ensure the indicator’s relevance.
Feasibility of implementation, i.e. adapting an indicator for use in a large or long-term monitoring program must be feasible and practical. Methods, logistics, cost, and other issues of implementation should be evaluated.
Response variability, i.e. it is essential to understand the components of variability in indicator results to distinguish extraneous factors from a true environmental signal. Total variability includes both measurement error introduced during field and laboratory activities and natural variation, which includes influences of stressors.
Interpretation and utility, i.e. a useful indicator must produce results that are clearly understood and accepted by scientists, policy makers, and the public. The presentation of indicator results should highlight their relevance for specific management decisions and public acceptability.
The Environmental Indicators and the Social Indicators reports are analysing the theoretical background of indicators and are developing a methodological approach to define the indicators that are important for the LIFE+ reclaim project – 18 Environmental ones and 14 Social ones.
EURELCO Group: Promoting Landfill Mining in Europe
The EURELCO Group (European Enhanced Landfill Mining Consortium) was formally established on March 11, 2014. At this stage, it is comprised by 38 organizations (companies, research institutes, societal actors and governmental organisations) as members of the Consortium, including strong European players such as VTT (Finland), Stena Metall (Sweden), RWTH Aachen (Germany), Montanuniversität Leoben (Austria), Universidade de Aveiro (Portugal) en Deltares (Netherlands). It’s main mission is defined as: “an open, quadruple helix network that supports the required technological, legal, social, economic, environmental, organizational innovation with respect to Enhanced Landfill Mining within the context of a transition to a circular, low carbon economy”. ENVECO S.A. has joined the EURELCO group, as the Coordinating Beneficiary of the LIFE+ reclaim project, as it is a partnership that will help promote this project and Landfill Mining.
On the 29th of April, 2014, EURELCO representatives were welcomed by the European Commission in Brussels to give presentations and discuss the future of Enhanced Landfill Mining in the EU-28. As a result, the following common statement was issued: “ELFM should be seen as part of a wider Sustainable Materials Management approach that integrates economic, ecological, social and geostrategic benefits for the EU, going beyond the traditional silos and allowing the EU to cost-effectively deal with its historic waste legacy. Furthermore, ELFM brings along breakthrough technologies such as geopolymer and GasPlasma technology which are also applicable for freshly produced industrial residues and municipal solid waste. As such these technologies allow leapfrogging for EU Member States that have, for instance, not yet invested in incineration technologies. Hence, ELFM is complementary to urban mining and recycling of new waste streams, as is also made clear in the development of the EIT KIC Raw MatTERS proposal where primary mining, substitution, urban mining and landfill mining are considered to be complementary solutions.”
A good follow-up to this first discussion will take place during the 2nd EURELCO General Assembly, in Copenhagen, Denmark, planned for autumn 2014.
If you need any more information, or are interested about any of our reports, contact us and we will be happy to send you a copy.
Issue No 1 | Apr 2014
reclaim Special Edition
Belgium (Flanders) – Restored landfill with various reclaim uses and “mining” of organics as biogas through enhancement
Biannual Newsletter on innovation, research and results of the LIFE+ reclaim project.