From urban to landfill mines

Feature article published in EU Magazine: Horizon 2020 Projects: Portal, January 2015, 110-111

In view of a more sustainable urban metabolism Dr. Peter Tom Jones (KU Leuven) calls for Enhanced Landfill Mining to unlock the resource potential in Europe’s 150,000 to 500,000 landfills. Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM), defined as “the integrated valorisation of landfilled waste streams as materials and energy (carriers), using innovative transformation and upcycling technologies and respecting the most stringent social and ecological criteria” , is relevant for both single-use Urban Solid Waste landfills, mixed Urban Solid Waste/Industrial Waste landfills and monolandfills containing industrial residues such as red mud, goethite, phosphogypsum, tailings, metallurgical slags. In many cases these residues contain significant concentrations of critical metals. ELFM allows to “remine” Europe and should be considered as a postponed form of closing-the-loop, injecting additional resource circularity and resilience into the EU’s economy.