Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Mining for "Gold" in Landfills

March 10, 2014
4:45 PM to 5:50 PM
University Events Room, Glickman Library, USM Portland Campus

On Monday March 10th at 4:45 pm Dr. Travis Wagner will present, "Mining for 'gold' in landfills." Professor Wagner's research is based on a case study of ecomaine's profitable multi-year metals recovery project. He will speak from 4:45 to 5:30 in USM-Portland's University Events Room on the 7th floor of Glickman Library. A short reception will follow with complimentary refreshments provided by L.L. Bean. The event is open to the public--all we ask is that you register here

As we enter an era of declining growth and increasing commodity costs, it makes sense to in new places for business opportunities. Efficiency will receive greater emphasis, especially in areas, like waste disposal, where there is little room for market differentiation. Here in Maine, municipally-owned ecomaine is at the forefront of mining landfills to recover and re-use metal.

Using onsite technological innovations, Maine’s ecomaine has become the first American landfill mining operation to profitably recover post-burn metals. ecomaine’s 20-acre ash monofill received approximately 800,000 tons of ash from its waste-to-energy plant between 1988 and 2009. Between November 2011 and November 2013, 22,000 tons of metals were recovered from over 220,000 tons of ash, and sent offsite for resmelting. Over 10,500 cubic yards of material has been removed from the monofill, thereby increasing available physical space and avoiding future expansion costs. With more than 6,000 former and 1,900 current landfills in the US, the landfill mining potential is substantial and it is possible that the results of this project can be applied to other sites. 

Dr. Travis Wagner is Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Southern Maine. Professor Wagner's research interests focus on sustainable material use through the identification and evaluation of model environmental policy programs with special emphasis on applying extended producer responsibility and product stewardship frameworks to divert, recapture, and recycle waste. His other interest is researching historical evolution of environmental policies. Professor Wagner coordinates the minor concentration in environmental sustainability.

You can learn more about the presentation here and register online here.

Contact Information

Jeffrey Gramlich