Environmental pollution, health threats and scarcity of raw materials, water, food and energy are some of the greatest challenges our world is facing today. At the same time, landfills and open dumpsites are still the dominant global waste disposal options, despite the fact that the long-term environmental impact in the form of emissions of greenhouse gases and contaminated leachates is significant. However, much of the environmentally hazardous waste that has been dumped at landfills can be recycled as energy or reused as valuable raw materials in different industries according to Yahya Jani, doctor of environmental science and chemical engineering.
Landfill mining — the tool of the future
In his dissertation, landfill mining is suggested as a tool to achieve an enhanced circular economy model. Viewing the landfill waste as a potential resource instead of as a problem is a common thread in Yahya’s research.
"More than 50% of the deposited waste dumped at landfills and open dump sites can be recycled as energy or reused as raw materials. These materials can be used as secondary resources in different industries instead of being forgotten or viewed as garbage," Jani explains.
His research also includes the extraction of metals from Småland’s art and crystal glass waste and different fine fractions.
Extracting 99 % of the metals
"I developed a method that enables the extraction of 99% of the metals from the glass waste that was dumped at Pukeberg’s glassworks and published the results. It is the first published article in the world that deals with recycling of metals from art and crystal glass," says Jani.
In his research study at Glasriket, Jani also used chemical extraction to recycle materials from a mix of glass waste and soil fine fractions smaller than 2 mm. The technology involves mixing old glass waste with chemicals to reduce the melting point of the glass waste in order to extract the metals.
"The methods I’ve developed to extract metals from Småland’s glass waste can be used to extract metals from all types of glass, like, for instance, the glass in old TV sets and computers. Thus, this method can be further developed at an industrial facility for the recycling of both glass and metals of high purity. This can also contribute to a restoration of Småland’s glass industry by providing the industry with cheap raw materials. In addition, the extraction of materials from old landfills contributes to the decontamination of these sites and reduces the environmental impact and health threats" Jani concludes.
To read the full story, visit https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180323090958.htm.