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Is enhanced landfill mining profitable?
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering. (Resources 2.0)
2018 (English)In: ISWA 2018 Book of Proceedings, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2018, p. 240-245Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The shift from linear to circular economy has steered the change in perception about landfills. From final to temporary waste storage, landfills are considered as technospheric stocks of resources that can be recovered through innovative technologies in the concept of enhanced landfill mining (ELFM). At present, most ELFM projects are in pilot-scale and it remains as a proof of concept. Economic feasibility is one of the primary considerations that must be satisfied prior to its full-scale realization. Several economic assessments were conducted in recent years but there is no systematic synthesis of these studies to date. The aim of this review is to compile various empirical insights of previous economic assessments of ELFM in relation to the employed methodological choices. With pre-defined exclusion criteria, 15 studies were selected in this review. For the empirical part, the identified main economic drivers for costs are separation and sorting, thermal treatment and transportation, while for benefits are material sales, recovered land and energy sales. In more than half of the studies, the costs exceeded the benefits concluding that ELFM is not profitable.  The few potentially profitable cases mainly depend on varying the system conditions defined by market prices and regulations. These require changes that are more radical, if not impossible. For the method part, costs and benefits are accounted at different levels of aggregation, scope and scale—that is from process to sub-process level, from private to societal economics, and from laboratory to pilot scale, respectively. As most studies are based on pilot scale, if not purely conceptual, data estimation mainly depends on extrapolation from these pilot projects or on direct adoption of secondary data. In spite of the expected uncertainties in model, scenario and parameter, less than half of the studies employed sensitivity and uncertainty analyses. With it being neglected, their results can be considered to have a weak reliability for practical use in a full-scale ELFM project implementation. A need for systematic framework for early-stage assessment is highlighted to capture both stochastic and epistemic uncertainties. Process and system upscaling with exploratory scenario development, and participatory data collection in ranges rather than in absolute terms are some of the suggested approaches to generate results with a certain level of confidence. In this way, the future economic assessments of ELFM can veer away from simple profitability assessments. Instead, it focuses on knowledge development despite the limited information that is inherent to emerging concepts. Most importantly, it provides reliable information that can be used as a decision-support for various stakeholders such as project managers, technology developers, and policy makers towards the advancement of ELFM.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2018. p. 240-245
Keywords [en]
economic assessment, enhanced landfill mining
National Category
Environmental Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-153269OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-153269DiVA, id: diva2:1269011
Conference
International Solid Waste Association World Congress (ISWA 2018)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 721185Available from: 2018-12-07 Created: 2018-12-07 Last updated: 2018-12-13Bibliographically approved

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Esguerra, John Laurence

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