Leachate emissions from landfill sites are of concern, primarily due to their toxic impact when released unchecked into the environment, and the potential for landfill sites to generate leachate for many hundreds of years following closure. Consequently, economically and environmentally sustainable disposal options are a priority in waste management. One potential option is the use of soil-plant based remediation schemes. In many cases, using either trees (including short rotation coppice) or grassland, phytoremediation of leachate has been successful. However, there are a significant number of examples where phytoremediation has failed. Typically, this failure can be ascribed to excessive leachate application and poor management due to a fundamental lack of understanding of the plant-soil system. On balance, with careful management, phytoremediation can be viewed as a sustainable, cost effective and environmentally sound option which is capable of treating 250m(3)ha(-1)yr(-1). However, these schemes have a requirement for large land areas and must be capable of responding to changes in leachate quality and quantity, problems of scheme establishment and maintenance, continual environmental monitoring and seasonal patterns of plant growth. Although the fundamental underpinning science is well understood, further work is required to create long-term predictive remediation models, full environmental impact assessments, a complete life-cycle analysis and economic analyses for a wide range of landfill scenarios.