Landfill Mining – A Contribution of Waste Management to the Conservation of Resources

The term urban mining broadly comprises anthropogenically created deposits of material resources. When considering the fact that a shortage of resources is expected in the future as well as an increase in price, these anthropogenic deposits are becoming more and more important for the provision of resources. This article refers to landfill mining which is a section of urban mining. It includes an evaluation of potential resources. A brief description of the landfill remediation method follows below. Incentives and impediments regarding landfill remediation are specified as well as required research and development activities.

In Germany approx. 2.5 billion tons of municipal waste have been landfilled since 1975. The quantities landfilled worldwide during this period amount to approx. 36 – 45 billion tons. Only the value of the iron, copper and aluminium resources deposited in German landfills for municipal waste since 1975 is estimated to be approx. 9 billion Euro and the calorific substances - in relation to oil equivalent - to about a further 60 billion Euro.
The possible contribution of all RDF-quantities landfilled up to now for energy supply in Germany only amounts to about 50 – 80 % of an annual energy demand, which may appear to be low. If you consider, however, the period of time during which these secondary raw materials can be provided, this offers a somewhat different perspective. 2.5 – 4 % of the annual requirement for primary energy sources could be provided for a period of 20 years. A waste incineration plant capacity of 12.5 million tons per year would have to be available. For a period of 20 years 14 – 17 % of the annual phosphate demand could be met, a natural resource which will only be available for about the next 100 years to come and for which there will not exist any substitution product. Landfill remediation with emphasis on most comprehensive recycling and land recycling is basically feasible. Details of the applied technologies are, however, not available in sufficiently substantiated form. In particular there is a lack of specific information about quantity and quality of the substances incorporated in the landfill body and the recoverable product qualities.
In September 2012 a large-scale research and development programme initiated by the German Ministry of Education and Research and the land of North Rhine Westphalia started on the topic of urban mining and landfill, coordinated by the company Tönsmeier, Porta Westfalica and the ARGE Abfallentsorgungsbetrieb (waste disposal) of Kreis Minden-Lübbecke, AML Immobilien GmbH and GVoA Gesellschaft zur Verwertung organischer Abfälle (recycling of organic waste). The aim of this research and development project – scheduled for three years, is to develop among others a global concept for landfill mining and to provide information for making decisions and for implementing projects by means of specific guidelines.

Copyright: © Lehrstuhl für Abfallverwertungstechnik und Abfallwirtschaft der Montanuniversität Leoben
Source: Depotech 2012 (November 2012)
Pages: 10
Price: € 5,00
Autor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus Fricke
Dr.-Ing. Kai Münnich
Dr. Michael Krüger
Prof. Dr.-Ing Gerhard Rettenberger
Dipl.-Ing. Burkart Schulte

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