Systematic assessment of critical factors for the economic performance of landfill mining in Europe: What drives the economy of landfill mining?

Waste Manag. 2019 Jul 15:95:674-686. doi: 10.1016/j.wasman.2019.07.007. Epub 2019 Jul 9.


Landfill mining (LFM) is a strategy to mitigate environmental impacts associated with landfills, while simultaneously recovering dormant materials, energy carriers, and land resources. Although several case study assessments on the economy of LFM exist, a broader understanding of the driving factors is still lacking. This study aims at identifying generically important factors for the economy of LFM in Europe and understanding their role in developing economically feasible projects in view of different site, project and system-level conditions. Therefore, a set-based modeling approach is used to establish a large number (531,441) of LFM scenarios, evaluate their economic performance in terms of net present value (NPV), and analyze the relationships between input factors and economic outcome via global sensitivity analysis. The scenario results range from -139 Euro to +127 Euro/Mg of excavated waste, with 80% of the scenarios having negative NPVs. Variations in the costs for waste treatment and disposal and the avoided cost of alternative landfill management (i.e. if the landfill was not mined) have the strongest effect on the scenario NPVs, which illustrates the critical role of system level factors for LFM economy and the potential of policy intervention to incentivize LFM. Consequently, system conditions should guide site selection and project development, which is exemplified in the study for two extreme regional archetypes in terms of income and waste management standard. Future work should further explore the developed model to provide decision support on LFM strategies in consideration of alternative purposes, stakeholders, and objectives.

Keywords: Economic analysis; Global sensitivity analysis; Landfill management; Landfill mining; Scenario analysis; Waste recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Europe
  • Mining
  • Refuse Disposal*
  • Waste Disposal Facilities
  • Waste Management*