In the Netherlands, we produce 60 million tonnes of waste per year. Two million tonnes cannot be recycled or incinerated. That material is transported to a landfill site that has been carefully constructed to protect the soil, groundwater and air. This is an effective but expensive solution, that requires continuous aftercare. This is what triggered the Dutch waste management industry, national and local governments and research institutes, to investigate a more sustainable and efficient solution; sustainable landfill management.
Afvalzorg is the initiator of the Sustainable Landfill Foundation, which strictly supervises a research programme into sustainable landfill management (SLM; in Dutch: iDS). This is a is unique long term experiment in the world (lasting ten years), which is being conducted in three Dutch provinces including two Afvalzorg locations. Here we are investigating whether it is possible to stabilise the landfill body rendering the contaminants within the landfill harmless. With this research programme, we are working on a cost-effective approach that doesn’t burden future generations.
How does it work?
Sustainable Landfill Management makes use of natural degradation processes. By forcing water and air into the landfill, the decomposition of organic matter accelerates, affecting the mobilization of pollutants. This process is expected to take ten years to complete. The quality of the remaining material must meet predetermined environmental hygiene requirements. During the experiment, emissions to soil and (ground)water are intensively monitored.
Eternal aftercare a thing of the past?
If the experiment succeeds, the perpetual and very costly aftercare of closed landfill sites will be a thing of the past. In that case, a landfill will no longer require special attention and an impermeable top cover will no longer be necessary. This will highly benefit both the environment and the economy as the issue is not passed on to future generations. We are pleased that we, as landfill operator and initiator of the Sustainable Landfill Foundation, can contribute to this innovative, but above all sustainable view of landfills.
If you would like to explore the possibilities of sustainable landfill management with us, Afvalzorg is more than willing to provide you with more information, backgrounds and set up to help you start sustainable landfill management in your country.