It’s no big secret that landfills are abhorrent for the environment. They have only existed for a century and we are already feeling the negative repercussions of methane polluting our air, and toxic runoff polluting our water not to mention the increasing deficit of space to bury these mounds of garbage.
But there may be a solution in sight. Though it was first theorized in the 1950s landfill mining has started catching the public’s attention as of late. The increased call for precious metals and land for development have turned heads towards landfills as a source for these increasingly evanescent materials.
When first attempted, landfill mining was not feasible due to the lack of technology to handle unstable organic waste. However, with an increased understanding of accelerated decomposition, landfill mining is now within our reach.
After material from a landfill has been excavated it is separated into streams to be sent through a primary screen to do the initial sorting before it is sent through a secondary screen to remove the fines and extract the material further from the soil. The material is then passed through a magnet to separate the ferrous metal from the rest of the stream to go on to its own process for repurposing. The rest of the stream is then sent through an air classifier to separate the material into piles depending on their density.
The scientific community is divided on if the process of landfill mining is, in fact, beneficial to the environment. On the one hand, it is reducing the toxic run off making its way into sources of water and it does have its own gas pollution. But on the other hand: excavating, recycling, and burning the material for repurposing gives off a significant amount of gas in itself. One conclusion is that the environmental benefits really depend on the location, resources, and gas emittance of the landfill in the first place compared to the amount of gas that will be created if the material is to be recycled. As precious metals become more scarce and land is in higher demand, however, landfill mining may become one of the only options to renew this resource in the future.
Financially many question if landfill mining is profitable enough to sustain given the costs of testing, excavation, deposition, and sorting being higher due to the need for recycled material to be clean and purified in order to have market value. Landfill miners are now looking to the possibility of screening more material faster to improve the profitability of this industry.
General Kinematics has nearly 60 years of experience expertly crafting cutting edge technology to improve sorting processes around the world. With a track record of increasing sorting capacity, General Kinematics has what it takes to increase your processing power and uncover the profitability of your landfill mining venture.
Thinking ROI? Think GK. Call us today!