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Landfill Mining: Institutional challenges for the implementation of resource extraction from waste deposits
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, Faculty of Science & Engineering.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3137-1571
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the thesis is to examine the institutional conditions for the implementation and emergence of landfill mining. The result shows that  current policy makes it difficult for landfill mining operators to find a market outlet for the exhumed material, which means that landfill mining may result in a waste disposal problem. Regulations also restrict accessibility to the material in landfills. Therefore, it has generally been municipal landfill owners that perform landfill mining operations, which directs learning processes towards solving landfill problems rather than resource recovery. Landfill mining is not, however, necessarily to be perceived as a recycling activity. It could also be understood as a remediation or mining activity. This would result in more favorable institutional conditions for landfill mining in terms of better access to the market and the material in the landfill.

The regulatory framework surrounding landfills is based on a perception of landfills as a source of pollution, a problem that should be avoided, capped and closed. Extracting resources from landfills, challenges this perception and therefore results in a mismatch with the regulatory framework. On the other hand, the material in mines is typically regarded in the formal institutions as a positive occurrence. Mining activities are regarded as the backbone of the Swedish economy and therefore receive various forms of political support. This favorable regulatory framework is not available for secondary resource production. Based on the identified institutional conditions, institutional challenges are identified. The core of these challenges is a conflict between the policy goal of increased recycling and a non-toxic environment. Secondary resources are typically punished through strict requirements for marketability, while primary resources are supported through subsidies such as tax exemptions. The authorities lack capacity to manage the emergence of unconventional and complex activities such as landfill mining. The institutional arrangements that are responsible for landfills primarily perceive them as pollution, while the institutions responsible for resources, on the other hand, assume them to be found in the bedrock.

The major contribution of the thesis is to go beyond the potential-oriented studies of landfill mining to instead focus on how institutions relate to landfill mining. In order to move towards a resource transition with dominant use of secondary resources a new institutional order is proposed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 120 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1799
Keyword [en]
Landfill mining, recycling, mineral policy, institutions, transitions, mining.
National Category
Economics and Business Other Environmental Engineering Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-132424DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-132424ISBN: 9789176856574 (Print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-132424DiVA: diva2:1045630
Public defence
2016-11-25, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2016-11-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. An integrated review of concepts and initiatives for mining the technosphere: towards a new taxonomy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>An integrated review of concepts and initiatives for mining the technosphere: towards a new taxonomy
2013 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, Vol. 55, 35-44 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Stocks of finite resources in the technosphere continue to grow due to human activity, at the expense ofdecreasing in-ground deposits. Human activity, in other words, is changing the prerequisites for mineralextraction. For that reason, mining will probably have to adapt accordingly, with more emphasis on theexploitation of previously extracted minerals.This study reviews the prevailing concepts for mining the technosphere as well as actual efforts to doso, the objectives for mining, the scale of the initiatives, and what makes them different from other reuseand recycling concepts. Prevailing concepts such as “urban mining,” however, are inadequate guides tothe complexity of the technosphere, as these concepts are inconsistently defined and disorganized, oftenoverlapping when it comes to which stocks they address. This review of these efforts and their potentialis therefore organized around a new taxonomy based on the umbrella concept technospheric mining,defined as the extraction of technospheric stocks of minerals that have been excluded from ongoinganthropogenic material flows.An analysis on the basis of this taxonomy shows that the prevailing mining initiatives are generallyscattered and often driven by environmental factors, in which metal recovery is viewed as an additionalsource of revenue. However, development of technology, specialized actors and new business modelsand policy instruments, could lead to technospheric mining operations becoming a profit-drivenbusiness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2013
Keyword
Resource management, Metal stocks, Secondary resources, Recycling, Urban mining.
National Category
Other Environmental Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77301 (URN)10.1016/j.jclepro.2012.04.007 (DOI)000322802300004 ()
Projects
Urban mining: laying the foundation for a new line of business
Funder
FormasVinnova
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-05-11 Last updated: 2016-11-10Bibliographically approved
2. Transforming dumps into gold mines. Experiences from Swedish case studies
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Transforming dumps into gold mines. Experiences from Swedish case studies
2012 (English)In: Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, ISSN 2210-4224, Vol. 5, 33-48 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article discusses the transformation of landfills from dumps toan alchemist’s dream – gold mines – by highlighting five Swedishcase studies where the landfill has been extracted. It is shown thatlandfills are embedded in broader socio-technical systems, includingtechnology, policies, culture, norms, markets, and networks.These artifacts have aligned into mutual dependencies under thenotion that landfills are garbage dumps, which has entrapped thelandfill in the prevailing “dump regime”. At the present time there isa window of opportunity to escape the “dump regime.” Dumps arebeing challenged by the circular economy, which has establishedinstability in the regime. However, for landfills to transform into“gold mines” creative entrepreneurs with the capacity to understandthe emergent properties of deposition – i.e. giving rise to aresource base – will be key. For further transformation, specializedmining actors, collaboration and further exogenous changes suchas higher metal prices are necessary.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2012
Keyword
Alchemy, Escaping lock-in, Landfill mining, Resource policy, Waste regimes.
National Category
Environmental Engineering Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-85347 (URN)10.1016/j.eist.2012.10.004 (DOI)
Projects
Landfill mining for integrated remediation and resource recovery: economic and environmental potentials in Sweden
Funder
Formas
Available from: 2012-11-23 Created: 2012-11-19 Last updated: 2016-11-10Bibliographically approved
3. Institutional conditions for Swedish metal production: a comparison of subsidies to metal mining and metal recycling
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Institutional conditions for Swedish metal production: a comparison of subsidies to metal mining and metal recycling
2014 (English)In: Resources policy, ISSN 0301-4207, Vol. 41, 72-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines and contrasts the level of Swedish governmental subsidies to two different ways of producing metal: the metal recycling sector and the metal mining sector. In 2010, the metal mining sector was subsidized by € 40 million and the metal recycling sector € 0.6 million. If the exemption from landfill tax is considered a subsidy, the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector changes drastically to approximately € 4000 million. Regardless of how the concept “subsidy” is defined, the metal mining sector in total and per tonne of metal produced is fundamentally more highly subsidized than the metal recycling sector. The value added per tonne of metal produced for the metal recycling sector appears to be higher than for the metal mining sector. The current dominant trend in the Swedish mineral strategy is nevertheless to increase the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014
Keyword
Subsidy, Recycling, Mining, Metal, Policy
National Category
Environmental Engineering Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-97469 (URN)10.1016/j.resourpol.2014.04.001 (DOI)000341338400009 ()
Funder
Vinnova
Note

On the day of the defence date the status of this article was Manuscript.

JEL Classification: H23; L72; Q38; Q53

Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-09-12 Last updated: 2016-11-10Bibliographically approved
4. A new dawn for buried garbage?: An investigation of the marketability of previously disposed shredder waste
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A new dawn for buried garbage?: An investigation of the marketability of previously disposed shredder waste
2016 (English)In: Waste Management, ISSN 0956-053X, E-ISSN 1879-2456Article in journal (Refereed) In press
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the market potential of disposed shredder waste, a resource that is increasingly emphasized as a future mine. A framework with gate requirements of various outlets was developed and contrasted with a pilot project focusing on excavated waste from a shredder landfill, sorted in an advanced recycling facility. Only the smallest fraction by percentage had an outlet, the metals (8%), which were sold according to a lower quality class. The other fractions (92%) were not accepted for incineration, as construction materials or even for re-deposition. Previous studies have shown similar lack of marketability. This means that even if one fraction can be recovered, the outlet of the other material is often unpredictable, resulting in a waste disposal problem, which easily prevents a landfill mining project altogether. This calls for marketability and usability of deposited waste to become a central issue for landfill mining research. The paper concludes by discussing how concerned actors can enhance the marketability, for example by pre-treating the disposed waste to acclimatize it to existing sorting methods. However, for concerned actors to become interested in approaching unconventional resources such as deposited waste, greater regulatory flexibility is needed in which, for example, re-deposition could be allowed as long as the environmental benefits of the projects outweigh the disadvantages.

Keyword
Landfill mining; Disposed waste; Marketability; Policy; Technology
National Category
Mineral and Mine Engineering Public Administration Studies Environmental Sciences Geology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-129541 (URN)10.1016/j.wasman.2016.05.015 (DOI)27216727 (PubMedID)
Funder
VINNOVA
Available from: 2016-06-20 Created: 2016-06-20 Last updated: 2016-11-22Bibliographically approved

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