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, 32 (3), 513-20

Landfill Mining: A Critical Review of Two Decades of Research


Landfill Mining: A Critical Review of Two Decades of Research

Joakim Krook et al. Waste Manag.


Landfills have historically been seen as the ultimate solution for storing waste at minimum cost. It is now a well-known fact that such deposits have related implications such as long-term methane emissions, local pollution concerns, settling issues and limitations on urban development. Landfill mining has been suggested as a strategy to address such problems, and in principle means the excavation, processing, treatment and/or recycling of deposited materials. This study involves a literature review on landfill mining covering a meta-analysis of the main trends, objectives, topics and findings in 39 research papers published during the period 1988-2008. The results show that, so far, landfill mining has primarily been seen as a way to solve traditional management issues related to landfills such as lack of landfill space and local pollution concerns. Although most initiatives have involved some recovery of deposited resources, mainly cover soil and in some cases waste fuel, recycling efforts have often been largely secondary. Typically, simple soil excavation and screening equipment have therefore been applied, often demonstrating moderate performance in obtaining marketable recyclables. Several worldwide changes and recent research findings indicate the emergence of a new perspective on landfills as reservoirs for resource extraction. Although the potential of this approach appears significant, it is argued that facilitating implementation involves a number of research challenges in terms of technology innovation, clarifying the conditions for realization and developing standardized frameworks for evaluating economic and environmental performance from a systems perspective. In order to address these challenges, a combination of applied and theoretical research is required.

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