RAWFILL in a nutshell

Old landfills in the circular economy

For a long time, landfills have solely been seen as final waste disposal sites, static end-points of a linear economy. Estimations pointed out that we now have about 100 000 old landfills in northwestern Europe. Fortunately, current waste management policies result in a limited percentage of landfilled waste today, as a consequence of the shift towards a circular economy. Old landfills can contribute to this circular economy as well, if they are recognized as dynamic stockpiles of materials, energy and land that could be exploited for the benefits of the local economy and its direct surroundings.

This way of thinking about old landfills is steadily growing in popularity. The Interreg Europe project COCOON introduced the concept of Dynamic Landfill Management (DLM) to emphasize the importance of the alignment of the revalorization of the landfill with the dynamic surrounding environment. The Interreg Europe RAWFILL project brings different stakeholders together that are specialized in this subject: SPAQuE (B), de University of Liège (B), Natural Environment Research Council (UK), Cleantech Flanders (B), ATRASOL (B), SAS Les Champs Jouault (F) and the Bergischer Abfallwirtschaftsverband (D). To improve this new approach on landfills, the project and its partners developed a new working method to overcome the barriers that are still in place today, to successfully implement DLM and to provide expertise on the revalorization potential of landfills.

Rawfill-solutions for old landfills

On June 7th 2017 the pilot meeting of RAWFILL took place in Liège. Since then, the RAWFILL partners managed to develop an evidence-based methodology in order to support new business models that address the resource recovery or rehabilitation potential of landfills. This methodology includes

  • The Enhanced Landfill Inventory Framework (ELIF): a method for gathering and storing Landfill mining and management oriented data sets in a structured way.
  • The Decision Support Tool (DST) 1 –  Cedalion: a tool to select the most promising landfills in terms of valorization or rehabilitation potential.
  • Innovative landfill content characterization by means of geophysics and guided waste sampling.
  • The DST 2 – Orion, to assess which are the most suitable valorization options for the most promising landfills determined by Cedalion

More information on the methodology can be found on the RAWFILL project website.

The RAWFILL tools

The main output of OVAM in the RAWFILL project is an application to support local governments, landfill owners, policy makers, consulting engineers, … in the decision making process when dealing with former landfill sites. The application includes a two-step approach: Cedalion (DST 1) and Orion (DST 2).

The first step (Cedalion) enables the user to screen a landfill database or inventory and to characterize and select the most promising landfills by means of a ranking algorithm. For this, the Cedalion tool is linked with the Enhanced Landfill Inventory Framework (ELIF), where all the available information on the landfills can be stored and managed. You can download the ELIF here:

Enhanced Landfill Inventory Framework - version 1.18

Cedalion will only need the most basic information for each landfill, so efforts in the early stage will be limited. The output of DST 1 will give the user an idea about the potential of the landfill in terms of mining and redevelopment. If the mining potential for a certain landfill is not high enough in the foreseeable future, an interim use will be advised, on the condition that there is no risk for the environment. These temporary solutions will buy time, ranging from a year to several decades, and will deliver one or more (ecosystem)services to society.

Currently, the Cedalion tool (MS Excel) is going through a last testing phase, and can be downloaded by means of the following link:

Cedalion tool version 1.3

Landfills with a high valorization potential indicated by the Cedalion tool, will be directed to DST 2 - Orion. This a more complex application where more detailed information is necessary and which will require some information and judgement from experts. The Orion tool consists of two different parts, the Orion dashboard and roadmap. The Orion dashboard provides the user with a collection of already existing models and tools that could be used when making decisions on the rehabilitation or revalorization of a landfill. The Orion roadmap on the other hand, directs the user towards the most relevant tools in function of the potential of the landfill, by posing questions to evaluate the feasibility of a possible landfill mining or rehabilitation project.

Currently, the Orion tool (interactive web application) is going through a last testing phase, and can be accessed by means of the following link:

Orion tool version 1.0

In collaboration with the Technical University Wien, OVAM introduces one newly developed model within the Orion dashboard: ONTOL. ONTOL is an online tool for the economic and ecologic evaluation of landfill mining, based on the methodology from the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC). This framework is based on research from TU Wien and provides a system within the circular economy to classify anthropogenic resources according to their mining options.