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Q: Landfills ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Landfills
Category: Science > Earth Sciences
Asked by: marinibug-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 19 Nov 2005 07:18 PST
Expires: 19 Dec 2005 07:18 PST
Question ID: 595117
Are there plans in the works to excavate landfills for materials to
make future products?
Subject: Re: Landfills
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 21 Nov 2005 07:33 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear marinibug-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. The
short answer to your question appears to be NO, at least not yet. The
issue has been considered by a number of entities and
environmentalists but it seems that perhaps in our disposable society
there is such an abundance of recycling and reclamation options that
landfills aren?t really a necessary or economical option.

"Landfill mining remains a peripheral practice, with just six
landfill-mining projects under way in the United States. Talk of using
waste as a fuel or as a biochemical feedstock keep surfacing, but the
talk has not translated into major investments in these new

At the moment is appears that landfill mining is limited to land
reclamation and restoration as opposed to material reclamation. The
practice is already underway on a limited scale in areas where both
land and materials are at a premium. However on a large scale the
excavation of landfills solely for the purpose of deriving useable
materials is not practical as an efficient or productive means of
reclaiming either land or materials in most locations. The retrieval
technology is simply not present at the moment and the process is
frankly too cost prohibitive in comparison to the potential reward.
Until such time as the profit outweighs the risks and drawbacks it
appears that landfills are not reasonably considered a viable target
for material reclamation - now or in the future.


I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher


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Cost effective

Request for Answer Clarification by marinibug-ga on 21 Nov 2005 09:13 PST
Do you think that when the oil runs out, the price of plastic will be
high enough to make landfill excavation profitable?

Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 21 Nov 2005 15:04 PST
Your question assumes oil will actually run out. While it will
undoutedly run out at some point in the future I tend to believe that
by the time that happens we will have so many alternatives to oil in
place that the recipie for fossil fuel based petroleum products
(including plastics) won't be issues any longer. But that's just my

marinibug-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
The answer was forthright and knowledgeable.

Subject: Re: Landfills
From: emjay-ga on 19 Nov 2005 08:49 PST
Hi marinibug,

Didn't turn up anything on reusing landfill materials in
manufacturing, per se -- I did, however, come across the odd reference
to methane recovery, in which methane produced by landfill waste
decaying is "captured" and used in natural gas production.

Here's a short piece on the subject:

- Emjay-ga
Subject: Re: Landfills
From: myoarin-ga on 21 Nov 2005 02:59 PST
I have also heard about methane recovery, but as to "mining" landfills
to recycle materials found, I suspect that fear of bearing
responsibility for dealing with any polution problems uncovered would
make the project very unattractive.
Subject: Re: Landfills
From: myoarin-ga on 21 Nov 2005 15:20 PST
HI Marinibug,
Glad you like Tutuzdad's fine answer.
If you are asking my opinion about "when the oil runs out", I still
doubt that mining landfill for plastic will be economical.  Some
plastics do deteriorate with time, and  - again -  mining landfill is
a messy proposition.  When oil really does start to run out, I expect
that we will already be moving on to solutions that reduce the present
extravagant use of plastic so that mining and recycling dirty plastic
will then also not be economical.
I live in Germany, where recycling is national "sport": refuse
containers for paper, plastic, glass (white, green brown), metal and
biodegradable.  The collection or emptying of these containers is
itself an extravagance, and the recycling of plastic is a problem
since there are different kinds of plastic; one just can't make a
variety of new products from the conglomerate.  One can make some
things out of it, like park benches, but there isn't much market for
these kinds of products and not at the price required.  A few years
ago, there were stories about plastic refuse being shipped to the Far

Meanwhile, this refuse sorting has reduced the amount of flamable
material in the bins of stuff that go to the garbage inceneration
plants, so that they require oil to do their jobs.  If all the plastic
bags and more paper went there, this probably wouldn't be necessary,
but recycling plastic as an alternative source of energy is not
Yes, I am cynical about the matter, at least about the way it is being
handled here, but it comes back to the question of economics: when is
recycling economical - will recycling be economical, in your question
-  when all the related costs and uses of energy (collection vehicles,
etc.) are correctly included in the calculation?

My apologies if you feel that I misused your question for this comment.
Regards, Myoarin

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