Landfill mining: Development of a theoretical method for a preliminary estimate of the raw material potential of landfill sites

T Wolfsberger, Jörg Nispel, Renato Sarc, Alexia Aldrian, Robert Hermann, Daniel Höllen, Roland Pomberger, Andreas Budischowsky, Arne Ragossnig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, the rising need for raw materials by emerging economies (e.g. China) has led to a change in the availability of certain primary raw materials, such as ores or coal. The accompanying rising demand for secondary raw materials as possible substitutes for primary resources, the soaring prices and the global lack of specific (e.g. metallic) raw materials pique the interest of science and economy to consider landfills as possible secondary sources of raw materials. These sites often contain substantial amounts of materials that can be potentially utilised materially or energetically. To investigate the raw material potential of a landfill, boreholes and excavations, as well as subsequent hand sorting have proven quite successful. These procedures, however, are expensive and time consuming as they frequently require extensive construction measures on the landfill body or waste mass. For this reason, this article introduces a newly developed, affordable, theoretical method for the estimation of landfill contents. The article summarises the individual calculation steps of the method and demonstrates this using the example of a selected Austrian sanitary landfill. To assess the practicality and plausibility, the mathematically determined raw material potential is compared with the actual results from experimental studies of excavated waste from the same landfill (actual raw material potential).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-680
Number of pages10
JournalWaste management & research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2015


  • environmental studies

Cite this