beach with waste opposite city skyline

Project: Closing the Life Cycle of Landfills

Landfill Mining in the Baltic Sea Region for the future.

Project information

Project manager
William Hogland
Swedish Institute

More about the project

Landfilling of municipal wastes has a great impact on environment. The main risks from landfills are water pollution from leachates and global greenhouse effects from methane emissions, as well as effects on human health. In the Baltic Sea Region only, there are about 75.000 to 100.000 closed or abandoned landfill/dump sites.

Landfill mining could be described as a process for extracting minerals or other solid natural resources from waste materials that have been previously disposed of by burying or dumping them in the ground. The process involves the excavation, screening, and separation of material from older landfills into various components.

In general, landfills which need to be excavated can be categorised as:

  1. Highly toxic landfills (perhaps 20 % of all)
  2. Those of interest for material and energy recovery
  3. Landfills located close to sea, lakes, rivers and potential drinking water resources
  4. Landfills with high emission of methane gas to the atmosphere

The applied case studies in terms of this project so far have been performed in Estonian and Swedish landfills (Kudjape landfill in Estonia, Högbytorp landfill and Vika landfill in Sweden). The Kudjape landfill in Saaremaa Island was closed by using this full-scale technique and transformed to the phytopark. Kudjape now serves as a world-wide famous example of how the degraded and contaminated area can be transformed into a useful societal property with various use as public green area and recreation center.