DLM explained

What is DLM?

Since 2019, Dynamic Landfill Management is the all-encompassing term for the sustainable integration of resources (Materials, Energy, Land) from landfill sites into the Circular economy. This includes the safe storage in view of a high valorization potential (ELFM), providing interim uses and bridging the gap to a final safe situation (Sustainable Landfilling), hereby respecting the most stringent social and ecological criteria.

The objective of Dynamic Landfill Management is to bring landfills in harmony with their environment by preventing or reducing as far as possible negative effects and with respect to the European policies and legislations in the broadest sense (Landfills, Waste and Resource Management, Climate change, Flooding, Soil sealing, No net land take,…).

 

Evolution of the landfill-related terminology

ELFM: one way in dealing with landfilled waste

Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) is one of the possibilities in the Dynamic Landfill Management world. The demand for raw materials and energy sources is high and still rising. Using them efficiently is essential to meet this demand in the future, too. Keeping materials in the cycle or even reusing materials that were temporarily absent from the materials cycle is therefore a major challenge to entrepreneurs, consumers and policy makers.

Finished or unfinished landfill sites form a possible new source of materials or energy. These are exploited through Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM). Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) is a concept that performs the valorisation of materials and energy from landfill sites as sustainably as possible through a maximalisation of materials recycling and optimal energy production.

The ELFM concept aims at a sustainable use of landfill sites whereby four basic targets are set: determining the needs for materials, energy, space and drinking water. This can be formulated as R³P: Recycling of Materials, Recovery of Energy, Reclaiming of Land, and Preserving Drinking Water Supplies.

Why DLM?

OVAM databases contain about 3,300 landfill sites in Flanders. The total space taken up by these sites is larger than a middle-sized city. Scaling it up to the level of the EU, it is estimates that there are about half a million comparable sites scattered across the territory.

The origin of these landfill sites in Flanders can mostly be situated in the period from 1945 to 1995 and in particular during the upcoming consumption society. The effects of half a century of dumping activity have only been considered problematic since the 1980s and involve the pollution of the environment and the obstruction of zoning options. The management of these thousands of sites is important in a crowded region like Flanders, where landfill sites in and around current settlements could make an important difference in the quality of life.

Pact 2020

In Pact 2020 and Flanders in Action, Flanders has expressed the ambition to take important steps towards a circular economy by 2020 with a use as low as possible of raw materials, energy, water, material and space with as little impact as possible on the environment and nature in Flanders and the rest of the world. The concept of sustainable materials management goes beyond the boundaries of traditional waste management to include the management to complete the materials cycle by digging up resources thrown away some decades ago. This form of mining our own past is also described as mining the Anthropocene, the most recent geological period that starts with the industrial revolution. Within the concept of a circular economy, the final challenge is that only raw materials from the Anthropocene period are used.

Bringing theory into practice

DLM…ELFM…they would only be vague acronyms if no actual projects would be based on the philosophy it stands for. Check out our projects[RAWFILL] and [COCOON] in which OVAM actively participates and see with whom we are working together. In COCOON we contribute in formulating advises for the European Commission to change policies related to waste management. In RAWFILL we develop a decision support tool  to help municipalities and companies in finding the best solution or interim use for the landfills in their jurisdiction area.

First steps

The demand for raw materials and energy sources is high and still rising. Using them efficiently is essential to meet this demand in the future, too. Keeping materials in the cycle or even reusing materials that were temporarily absent from the materials cycle is therefore a major challenge to entrepreneurs, consumers and policy makers. Finished or unfinished landfill sites form a possible new source of materials or energy. These can be mined with Enhanced Landfill Mining. Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) is a concept that performs the valorisation of materials and energy from landfill sites as sustainably as possible through a maximisation of materials recycling and optimal energy production.

Remediation Terracotta first landfill mining remediation in 1998

OVAM officially remediated a landfill site of household and industrial waste. At that landfill site it built a recycling and processing plant where the inert materials in the waste were recycled. In this way significant reductions in landfill costs and related environmental taxes were realised. The cleaned and recycled materials found a beneficial reuse. The residual fraction was dumped at a landfill site close by.

OVAM Workshop 2011

In the spring of 2011 OVAM organised a workshop on landfill mining. This was the starting moment for OVAM to communicate its intention to develop a policy around ELFM to the world. Many representatives from industry, local government, the environmental sector, civil society and the scientific world took part in this intensive workshop. (More information can be found [here]).

Mining the Anthropocene

The mining of (previous) landfill sites is also called 'Enhanced Landfill Mining', or 'ELFM' for short (J.T.Jones, 2012). It means: "the safe conditioning, excavation and integrated valorisation of (historic and/or future) landfilled waste streams as both materials and energy, using innovative transformation technologies and respecting the most stringent social and ecological criteria."

This type of mining is considered exploitation of the Anthropocene, the most recent geological period that starts from the industrial revolution (Crutzen 2000). Within the concept of a circular economy the final challenge is that only raw materials from the Anthropocene period are used. The basis of the method applied by OVAM can be reduced to 3 main themes: inventory of the (mining problems of) landfill sites in Flanders (Mapping), landfill site description (Surveying) exploitation (Mining).

This simplified breakdown is in line with the work process in traditional mining and enables OVAM to get a good idea of the stock and the exploitation potential. An additional component that is less relevant in traditional mining is that of the costs in the case of non-exploitation, i.e. the potential soil remediation.