Waste tech boss predicts ‘landfill mining’ increase within a decade

The chief executive of waste software company ISB Global has predicted that ‘landfill mining’, the practise of sifting through landfill sites and extracting materials, will be commonplace within ten years. 

Landfill mining could grow as the value of some materials grow

Chris Williams, who founded the company in 1999, explained that when the earth’s finite resources run out, materials discarded into landfills as waste are set to become a valuable commodity.

This includes materials such as glass, particular metals, plastics, textiles, brick, stone and cement, which could all be digged out of old landfill sites to be reused, recycled, refined and ultimately resold, he said.

Mr Williams explained: “We’re going to need to return to our landfills and explore how to recover the valuable materials deposited in them – the challenge is, how to do so safely.

“Over the next 10-20 years, expect to see an increase in businesses – including those already operating in the waste and recycling management space – set up safe, approved mining operations that become new income streams while also helping to drive a more circular economy. The world is about to realise we need those materials”. sooner than we think.”

ISB Global is behind a software which it says enables waste management “digital transformation”.


In the UK,  the amount of waste send to landfill has reduced greatly in the last decade (see letsrecycle.com story). This has also been the case in parts of Europe for decades.

Chris Williams, who founded ISB Global in 1999

However, in large parts of the world, landfill remains an important waste disposal route. Turkey, for example, landfills 90% of its residual waste.

Mr Williams noted that in countries experiencing population growth and economic development, coupled with limited awareness of environmental issues, landfill sites continue to expand rather than shrink.

“If we are to work with the planet rather than against it, we need to transition to a circular economy. Use recycled or pre-used materials instead of extracting or manufacturing entirely new ‘virgin’ materials from scratch is a central tenet of this transition,” he added.

“Done properly, landfill mining is a chance to create new jobs, reuse more materials, reduce landfill impact and work towards a more sustainable world. It’s already happening in different countries around the world. It’s only going to become more commonplace as business and industry looks for ways to move away from their dependence on the earth’s finite and increasingly depleted resources.”

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