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General information

Landfills are the final disposal site for different types of waste. A landfill is classified as

  1. a landfill for hazardous waste;
  2. non-hazardous waste; or
  3. inert waste.

In 2020 there were 419 operational landfills in Finland that include landfills of non-hazardous (99), hazardous (27) and inert waste (7), as well as landfills for soil and mining waste (Figure 66). Most of the waste placed in landfill sites was a different kind of mineral waste. Over half (235) of landfills in operation are landfills for soil and 64 were for mining waste. More than half of the landfills are maintained by public bodies, the rest are private landfills for industrial and mining waste.

Landfill gas was collected from 33 landfills in 2021. The most common method of exploitation of gas collected from landfills is heat production. In some plants the gas is utilized in combined heat and electricity production. Limiting landfilling of biodegradable and other organic waste substantially reduces landfill gas formation and may reduce the need to establish new landfill gas pumping stations.

Landfill disposal of municipal waste is possible only in exceptional cases, and currently only 0.5 per cent of MSW is landfilled in Finland. The materials deposited in landfills primarily include aggregate, asbestos, other fine particles (e.g. ash) and non-combustible waste. Still, there is need for landfills for hazardous and inert waste, so complete denial of waste disposal is yet not possible.


Decomissioning of landfills

The Landfill Degree defines structures for landfill closure. The structures of the landfill closure are approved in an environmental permit based on the operator’s plans. Key legislative obligations are requirement for the construction of a capping structure, and requirement for capture of landfill gas, monitoring, and leachate treatment (generally for 30 years). Deviations are possible if the risk assessment is supporting them. Additional guidance can be found in the literature, published papers and standards. The ways landfill may have impact is by having a contact with waste, by vermin and/or other animals, by odour and gas release (CH4), and leachate. Proper closure needs to be done to bring a landfill to a stable and safe condition, reduce negative impacts and reduce need for active management.

Cold climate is also causing challenges. Freezing and thawing are impacting material properties, and causing uneven settling. There is limited construction time, basically during the summer. Efficient drainage and leachate management is of high importance and there may be challenges with passive treatment solutions. Permafrost areas are even more sensitive, especially when considering drainage. Potentially freezing over time will require significant capping thickness. Leachate production is reduced in colder climates and slow decaying of waste means low methane production (especially in permafrost areas).

Case examples of closed landfills (you can find more examples on decommissioning and monitoring of landfills below):


Photo: Solar panels on the slope of Tarastenjärvi decommissioned landfill


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