Mine landfills for feedstock resources we need!
Stop Wasting material!
Move to Zero-Waste – NetZero, Stop waste of any kind.
Stop wasting power, Stop wasting food, Stop wasting plastic, don’t waste – this is a fragile and sensitive world!
Thousands of end-of-life and existing dumps contain useful materials.
Our view of landfills is typically negative, an environmental disaster zone, emitters of high levels of methane, local polluter, ground water pollution, and odour emitter. It is estimated by various sources that over 4 billion tons of trash a year will contribute to landfills worldwide by 2030. What does this mean to us? Landfills have been around for ages and not until recently we have come to the realization that landfills are a largely untapped resource for many metals.
Valuable recyclable materials formerly regarded as waste can be mined from landfills, providing a new source of feedstock for industry. In the US, more than 4.6 million tons of metal, automotive, industrial and electronic waste are disposed of in landfills. This material has potential to provide a new supply for declining supplies of metals such as the platinum group elements and rare earths.
Landfill Mining, the integrated valorization of landfilled waste streams as materials and energy, enhanced mining extracts valuable materials from both landfilled industrial waste and municipal solid waste.
The potential common sense benefits of mining landfills include reducing the risk of pollution from substandard and under managed landfill or dump sites, reclaiming soil, extending the life of the landfill by reducing the volume of waste or reducing the area of land the landfill occupies, mitigating ground waster contamination and recovering materials such as aluminum, rare earth and ferrous metals, and an opportunity to produce producing energy at municipal waste-to-energy facilities leveraging existing and emerging industrial waste to energy technologies such as pyrolysis.
We are running out of much need REE
Why mine landfills, we are running out of much needed Rare Earth Elements (REE) and other material, we are also running out of the helium we need for MRI scanners and yet we're still putting it into party balloons. We are discarding, burning and burying the same valuable resources we are excavating from the earth to the extent that there is more copper in the ash left over after we burn rubbish than in traditionally mined ore. Arguably, the resources we need are no longer in the ground, but in landfill.
Although the development of landfill mining as a general solution to excessive waste has proved very economically and industrially viable (US Environmental Protection Agency), the application of this method to the harvesting of strategic metals still has fundamental issues. A major hurdle for the mining of landfills for strategic metals is the current limited nature of rare earth recycling. Until rare earths can be extracted and separated from used products in an economically beneficial manner, however, such products can be stockpiled upon reclamation until a time when their strategic elements can be extracted and removed.
As landfill mining becomes more prevalent for other uses such as soil recovery and landfill life extension, new processes for cleaning and reclaiming such materials are being developed and perfected by corporations hoping to benefit from the reusable products of their landfill mining for the purpose of recovering strategic metals will become more prevalent.
Although the costs at first may present an obstacle in gaining the necessary momentum for company participation in landfill mining, the cost of landfill mining will continue to decline as the industry gains experience and as new equipment and techniques become available to make landfill mining more appealing in local areas facing landfill closure or operators desiring to extend the lives of their landfills.
Based on the rising prices and the projected restricted availability stemming from the mining of virgin resources like platinum group elements and rare earths, landfill mining presents a viable, feasible alternative. Still, the supply of necessary resources coming from landfills would be limited, and the recuperation of these elements would only create a temporary supply. Recycling rare earth metals from electronic and industrial waste in landfills close the gap for much needed metals.