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First steps

The demand for raw materials and energy sources is high and still rising. Using them efficiently is essential to meet this demand in the future, too. Keeping materials in the cycle or even reusing materials that were temporarily absent from the materials cycle is therefore a major challenge to entrepreneurs, consumers and policy makers. Finished or unfinished landfill sites form a possible new source of materials or energy. These can be mined with Enhanced Landfill Mining. Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) is a concept that performs the valorisation of materials and energy from landfill sites as sustainably as possible through a maximisation of materials recycling and optimal energy production.

Remediation Terracotta first landfill mining remediation in 1998

OVAM officially remediated a landfill site of household and industrial waste. At that landfill site it built a recycling and processing plant where the inert materials in the waste were recycled. In this way significant reductions in landfill costs and related environmental taxes were realised. The cleaned and recycled materials found a beneficial reuse. The residual fraction was dumped at a landfill site close by.

OVAM Workshop 2011

In the spring of 2011 OVAM organised a workshop on landfill mining. This was the starting moment for OVAM to communicate its intention to develop a policy around ELFM to the world. Many representatives from industry, local government, the environmental sector, civil society and the scientific world took part in this intensive workshop.


The participants suggested that the government develop a long-term policy for the promotion of landfill mining.
This includes:

  • creating a legal framework for the licensing conditions, end goal;
  • creating a favourable climate through knowledge management and concrete pilot projects;
  • involving local authorities; 

Converting recommendations

On the basis of the results of this workshop, complemented with a thorough exploration of national (project 'closing the circle') and international initiatives, OVAM started developing a policy in 2012 to stimulate landfill mining. This is done on a project basis and focuses on:

  • conducting pilot projects;
  • developing codes of good practice;
  • developing a practical approach to respond to local problems in terms of the limited availability of space.