Cranfield University has assembled a network of the UK's leaders in landfill management, engineering and development to focus on making enhanced landfill mining a reality in the UK. They will be targeting the more than 20,000 former sites across the UK.
Enhanced landfill mining recovers valuable raw materials, contributing to the circular economy. This is in addition to minimising future environmental risks posed by closed landfill sites, such as leaching of pollutants from sites into nearby water bodies and uncontrolled gas leakages.
With increasing pressures on greenbelt and the need to unlock further development land, the UK's former landfills may hold the key to major land holdings across the country becoming available for development.
Enhanced landfill mining offers the opportunity to boost climate resilience across the UK by removing potential environmental pollution buried underground.
Additionally, with increasing pressures on land value, the need to bring forward housing schemes and infrastructure, former landfill sites could become development sites. This would relieve greenbelt pressure, contribute to the green recovery, and create thousands of jobs UK wide.
The network brings together experts from the land management and environmental sectors. They are currently outlining a UK-focused strategy for making enhanced landfill mining a reality in the UK.
Dr Stuart Wagland, who is leading the network, said: "This is an exciting multi-disciplinary challenge which addresses environmental issues, reintroduces critical materials into the supply chain and enables the redevelopment of closed sites. This network brings together leading players in the sector and will drive the way forward."
The next steps will see engagement across UK Government, the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive to support successful delivery in the coming months.