Rubbish Turned to Riches

Landfills, disposal sites that are detrimental to the environment as well as human health, are everywhere. Landfills result in the production of leachate and gases; these gases consist mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. What if there was something that we could do to transform these harmful waste piles into renewable energy?

Group Machiels, a waste-management company in Belgium, is fighting to launch an experiment that will accomplish the idea that we can change the current state of the environment. This experiment would take place in Europe, a country where the amount of landfills that have been created is extreme. The company’s plan is to excavate the old waste buried in one of Europe’s largest landfills: the Remo landfill site. Like Group Machiels, businesses have been arguing that the contents in landfills like Remo could hold a remarkable amount of natural resources as well as financial profit.

The logo for Group Machiels, the Belgian waste-management company.

The process of excavating the Remo landfill site would consist of using plasma technology. Plasma is already used in different places around the globe to convert waste into energy. In this case, the landfill contents would be filtered for metals and recyclable materials, then the plasma would be used to increasingly heat the waste and convert it into a renewable gas. Essentially, instead of viewing these landfills as solely garbage, its contents could be used as secondary resources for various industries.

The extent of how full of waste landfills can get.

Of course, like any excellent idea, there are challenges. It is hard to get permission from the court and local residents. Machiels is currently undergoing a legal battle at the Belgian high court, however, they hope to have an answer this year as to whether or not they can begin this experiment that could change the opinions of many as well as alter the tragic state of the environment.

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