Socio-economics of enhanced landfill mining (Machiels)

The Context
Machiels group wants to make a major contribution to the sustainable management of materials, energy and infrastructure. Its motto is Closing the Circle. They asked Futureproofed to map and calculate the impact of enhanced landfill mining. The investigation was part of a multi-stakeholde research project including scientists and economist from KU Leuven and Hasselt University.

The Challenge
Is it better to leave landfills like they are, or rather, consider landfills as 'urban mines', full of raw materials and resources, waiting to be "mined" and thereby substituting the procurement of virgin raw materials and energy. How can you determine which scenario is more favourable regarding CO2 emissions?

The Trajectory
FP calculated the footprint of two developed scenarios:

  • enhanced landfill mining (both energy and material recovery);
  • not mining the landfill (both energy and materials produced as used to).

A sensitivity analysis was conducted on a set of critical parameters to determine the leverage points that most affected the carbon impact of this solution.

Results and Resolutions
The publication of a scientific paper discussing the case for enhanced landfill mining is a preferred choice for moving forward towards a more cyclic, low-carbon economy in which 'waste' becomes a technical nutrient for another industrial cycle.

Country: Belgium
Client: Group Machiels
Sector: Waste
Services: Carbon & environmental management
Year: 2011

Related links
Exploring the socio-economics of Enhanced Landfill Mining