The head of ISB Global says he expects landfill mining to grow as a solution to valuable material and resource shortages while driving a circular economy.
According to Chris Williams, founder and CEO of ISB Global, materials discarded into landfills as waste are set to become a valuable commodity and the waste and resource industry should be talking more about landfill mining.
Founded in 1999, ISB Global designs and delivers software that allows environmental, waste management and recycling businesses to automatically track and measure their waste and recyclable materials.
Writing in a blog post, Williams said: “Landfill mining involves sifting through and extracting useful and valuable materials from landfills – such as glass, particular metals, plastics, textiles, brick, stone and cement – to be reused, recycled, refined and resold.
“It puts more ‘existing’ material back into the economy and creates valuable secondary markets while reducing the amount of dormant waste at landfill sites.”
However, Williams says the current main challenge for waste management companies considering landfill mining is to do it “safely, efficiently and profitably”.
If we are to work with the planet rather than against it, we need to transition to a circular economy.
He says many landfill sites are built with environmental safeguards in place but other sites don’t have safety measures and contain a range of hazards, which if disturbed, affect people and communities living and working nearby by contaminating water supplies, releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and damaging soil.
Williams says to expected to see an increase in businesses setting up mining operations that become new income streams while also helping to drive a more circular economy over the next 10-20 years – including companies already operating in the waste and recycling management space.
“If we are to work with the planet rather than against it, we need to transition to a circular economy,” Williams wrote in the blog post. “Using recycled or pre-used materials instead of extracting or manufacturing entirely new ‘virgin’ materials from scratch is a central tenet of this transition.
“Done properly, landfill mining is a chance to create new jobs, reuse more materials, reduce landfill impact and work towards a more sustainable world.
“It’s already happening in different countries around the world. It’s only going to become more commonplace as business and industry look for ways to move away from their dependence on the earth’s finite and increasingly depleted resources.”
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