From landfill to valuable resource

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Virtual Landfill Forum 2021 discusses ,,Landfill in Transition’ [Picture:
Virtual Landfill Forum 2021 discusses ,,Landfill in Transition’ [Picture: Klinger und Partner GmbH]

It is just a few years since discussions were being held about closing landfill sites. But these facilities are still necessary today, for example for disposing of non-radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear power plants, or tar from road construction, but also for energy generation using photovoltaics. The best solutions for tackling this transition were the subject of the Landfill Forum 2021, with support from the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy Management Baden-Württemberg and under the scientific direction of Prof. Martin Kranert, Department of Waste Management and Emissions.

Landfills are an indispensable part of waste management infrastructure. However, as an increasingly scarce resource, landfills are frequently becoming the focus of public and political attention," emphasized outgoing Minister Franz Untersteller (MdL) in his welcome address at the conference. Helmfried Meinel, Ministerial Director at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Energy Management, added: "Landfills for waste that cannot be recycled or further treated continue to be an important part of public services and the circular economy."

For example, landfill capacity is required for the storage of stone and earth-like materials such as construction waste from decommissioned nuclear power plants, road construction or from the renovation of facades containing asbestos - which gives rise to several safety and recycling issues. On the other hand, photovoltaic systems could be built on large brownfields - keyword re-use - thus making them an important resource for the successful implementation of the energy revolution.

Against this backdrop, the technical spectrum of the conference was extremely broad, covering a range of current topics. 250 experts and interested parties from the science sector, relevant authorities, public waste management authorities and the engineering sector met via livestream to exchange ideas, in line with current pandemic regulations. The topics "Landfill construction and climate protection", "Disposing of waste from dismantled nuclear power plants", "Road rubble containing tar", "Dismantling of reinforced concrete structures containing asbestos", "Reuse of landfill sites for energy generation by means of photovoltaics", "Logistics and waste disposal in the construction of high-speed rail lines", "The digitalization of landfill sites" or "The treatment of PFC-contaminated landfill wastewater", all the way to "Estimation of the cost development at landfills" were met with great interest from the audience. There was also the opportunity for participants to discuss these topics in more depth.

The conference was organized by the Forschungsund Entwicklungsinstitut für Industrieund Siedlungswasserwirtschaft sowie Abfallwirtschaft e.V. (FEI), and the Institute for Sanitary Engineering, Water Quality and Solid Waste Management (ISWA) at the University of Stuttgart, the Department of Waste Management and Emissions, in cooperation with the Ministry for the Environment, Climate and Energy Management Baden-Württemberg and the State Institute for the Environment Baden-Württemberg (LUBW), Karlsruhe.