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5 Lessons learned from 2nd ELFM European Parliament Seminar

How is Europe going to deal with the legacy of more than 500,000 landfills? More than 50 experts debated this question during the 2nd ELFM Seminar in the European Parliament (November 20, 2018), which was hosted by Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans (ALDE Group). A detailed analysis of this event has now been published as a ETN NEW-MINE Policy Brief, authored by Peter Tom Jones (KU Leuven), Eddy Wille (OVAM, Flemish Public Waste Agency) and Joakim Krook (Linköping University). The Policy Brief draws 5 key Lessons from the lively debates and offers a route forward. Apart from the main analysis, the Policy Brief also provides 15 testimonials, top-notch action photographs and offers direct links to all key presentations and speeches. (PTJ, 17/12/2018)

Executive Summary ETN NEW-MINE Policy Brief December 2018 (“Why we need to develop a broad Dynamic Landfill Management strategy and vision for Europe’s 500,000 landfills“)

The Second ELFM Seminar in the European Parliament took place on November 20, 2018. More than 50 directly involved stakeholders from the European Parliament, the European Commission, regional Public Bodies, industry and academia interactively debated the need to develop a clear vision on the management and mining of Europe’s 500,000+ landfills.

Lesson Learned #1: The ELFM Amendment of the Landfill Directive was rejected by the European Council in May 2017 as ELFM is a red line for the Eastern European Member States that have other, more pressing priorities in waste management, such as the avoidance of landfilling and the setting up of basic recycling schemes.

Lesson learned #2: The participants agreed that the (revised) EU Landfill Directive has a number of blind spots. It has no bearing on the majority of Europe’s 500,000 landfills as they predate the Directive (1999). As regards the minority of sanitary landfills, for which it was created, it has no answer for the long term liabilities, as aftercare funds are underfunded, making any kind of future remediation and/or mining activity less attractive.

Lesson learned #3: There was a consensus that the way forward is to prioritise the incorporation of the more comprehensive, multi-phased concept of Dynamic Landfill Management into European legislation rather than focussing only on its most ambitious part, i.e. Enhanced Landfill Mining.

Lesson learned #4: It was agreed there is an urgent need for a comprehensive definition of the concept Dynamic Landfill Management (DLM), which should capture various dimensions. First of all, DLM refers to the dynamic view on landfill management, i.e. the management of any given landfill needs to smartly change and adjust over time. Secondly, DLM needs to offer an integrated framework, satisfying multiple objectives, ranging from pollution prevention, land reclamation and restoration, creation of new landfill void space, interim use of the landfill surface, to the recovery of materials and energy resources. Thirdly, a DLM definition needs to highlight the need for a cross-cutting approach with respect to distinct European policies and legislations. The task to develop a broadly-supported definition for DLM is given to the Interreg Europe COCOON team.

Lesson learned #5: It was agreed that Enhanced Landfill Mining (ELFM) remains a highly valuable concept, albeit as one specific, more advanced component within the broader DLM concept. The political acknowledgement of the resource recovery-driven ELFM concept remains relevant, in line with Europe’s Circular Economy Action Plan.

Download NEW-MINE Policy Brief December 2018 here

About the authors

Photo Peter Tom Jones @ 2nd ELFM European Parliament Seminar

Peter Tom Jones is a KU Leuven IOF (Industrial Research Fund) Senior Research Manager in the field of Urban/Landfill Mining and Sustainable Metallurgy (SIM² KU Leuven). He is coordinator and/or valorisation officer of a number of KU Leuven, Flemish and EU-wide projects and consortia in the field of recycling, metallurgy and Urban/Landfill Mining. He is the General Coordinator for the European Enhanced Landfill Mining Consortium (EURELCO). Jones coordinates the EU H2020 MSCA-ETN NEW-MINE project on ELFM.

Photo Eddy Wille

Eddy Wille is Senior advisor – geologist at the Flemish Public Waste Agency (OVAM, Department of Soil Management)and negotiator and representative of the Flemish government in Brownfield covenant projects. Since 1991, he’s involved in the Flanders soil remediation policy and pioneering in OVAM’s ELFM-programme. He is the OVAM-representative in EURELCO and collaborator in the Interreg projects COCOON and RAWFill. He’s also member of the Advisory board of EU MSCA-ETN NEW-MINE.

Photo Joakim KrookJoakim Krook is Associate Professor in Industrial Ecology at the Division Environmental Technology and Management, Linköping University (Sweden). He is specialised in multidisciplinary systems analysis research on recycling strategies and landfill and urban mining. He is Steering Committee Member of EURELCO and editor of the special issue entitled “Urban and Landfill Mining: emerging global perspectives and approaches” in Journal of Cleaner Production (2013). He is Principal Investigator for Linköping University in the EU MSC-ETN NEW-MINE project.


Programme and links to Opening Speech and presentations

  • Keynote intro by MEP Vautmans (ALDE): download Speech_Hilde_VAUTMANS_20-11-2018 here
  • Retrospective by T. Jones (EURELCO Coordinator & EU Horizon 2020 MSCA-ETN NEW-MINE) (download presentation JONES here)
  • Intros by Stock (LfU Brandenburg, Germany), E. Wille (OVAM, Belgium) & C. Neculau (SpaQue, Belgium) on lessons learned on landfill management and mining policies/technologies in Europe (resp. COCOON & RAWFILL) (download presentation COCOON-RAWFILL here)
  • Intro by Tielemans (Group Machiels) on barriers & opportunities for private actors willing to undertake ELFM projects (cf. Closing the Circle case) (download presentation CTC project (TIELEMANS) here)
  • Debate I: Short-term opportunities for landfill management (e.g. interim use) and mining, featuring:
    • COCOON/RAWFILL partners & stakeholders: Coca (junta de Andalucia, Spain), Alexis De Mey (Ministry of the Environment, Wallonia Region, Belgium), C. Wolf (TH Köln, Germany), U. Stock (Landesamt für Umwelt des landes Brandenburg, Germany), J.F. Mars & F. van de Sande (Rijkswaterstaat, Netherlands), H. Scharff (Afvalzorg, Netherlands).
  • Intro by MEP Demesmaeker (ECR, Shadow Rapporteur Landfill Directive – URL) on ELFM & Landfill Directive
  • Debate II: EU legislation/policies (LFD, Soil Directive, CE, climate targets) and landfill management and mining benefits, with interventions from:
    • EC: Nyberg (GROW), S. Happaerts (REGIO);
    • EP: Demesmaeker (Belgium, ECR), H. Vautmans (Belgium, ALDE);
    • Academics: Krook (EU NEW-MINE, Linköping Univ., Sweden), S. Wagland (EU SMARTGROUND, Cranfield Univ., UK).
  • Closing statement by MEP H. Vautmans (ALDE)
  • Moderator: Dries (Adviser Flemish Government, Cabinet Liesbeth Homans, Expert on ELFM)


MEP Vautmans, EURELCO, Cleantech Flanders, SIM² KU Leuven, with additional support from NEW-MINE, COCOON and RAWFILL.


The views expressed in this article are the private views of the author and may not, under any circumstances, be interpreted as stating an official position of ETN NEW-MINE, EURELCO or SIM² KU Leuven.