Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) was a strategic project by OVAM that ran from 2011 to 2015. It was at that time a brand new concept developed by the ELFM consortium in Flanders, of which OVAM is a member.
The concept of Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) was introduced and defined by Jones et al. as:
“the safe conditioning, excavation and integrated valorisation of landfilled waste streams as both materials and energy, using innovative transformation technologies and respecting the most stringent social and ecological criteria”.
All departments at OVAM are involved, because ELFM covers the waste, materials and soil policy areas. An ELFM project team defined this ELFM concept in more formal terms.
At the same time OVAM developed a strategy in which its main lines were the inventory, valorisation, communication and legal framework. Based on this information and knowledge, ELFM was seen as a form of sustainable stock management.
During the planning period, OVAM set up various subprojects to collect specific data about the research areas. This involved both its own databases and the support of third parties. From this point of view, landfills were no longer considered as a final and static situation but as a dynamic part of the materials cycle. The potential valorisation of the disposed waste is an important aspect in the assessment of the environmental impact of landfills.
Within OVAM a project structure was set up in which the three departments are represented and take on specific tasks. It is controlled by the board of directors. For each segment (surveying, mapping, mining) practical examples were sought and implemented. This approach supported a firm basis for the ELFM policy and adjusted it where necessary. Every subtask needed to contribute to the final goal, i.e. the ISO 2015 certification, the standard for stock management at landfill sites. The general principles of a project-based approach were defined into 15 subtasks with milestones, in the period 2012-2015.
ELFM is not only a relatively new concept but is also still little explored and elaborated. In international terms, too, knowledge is limited and, as a result, OVAM has defined a concrete research programme. The ELFM concept is described as a form of stock management, and this management has 3 pillars: an inventory of the landfill sites, a description of the landfill sites and the mining of landfill sites. For every pillar research projects are set up and supported. Because only fragmented knowledge is present, OVAM is systematically looking for partners and opportunities to improve knowledge gathering. This explains the attention for scaling up the ELFM consortium to EU level and frequent English communication around this topic.