What's the project about?

Memorandum on sustainable landfill management

In 2015, an OVAM memorandum on sustainable landfill management was approved by the Flemish Government. It was proposed by the Flemish minister of Environment, Nature and Agriculture. The memorandum contains a vision of the long-term management of closed landfill sites, focusing on optimal, sustainable integration of landfills with their dynamic environment. This type of management falls under the concept of Dynamic Landfill Management (DLM), which OVAM aims to bring into practice in its daily operation and policies. The COCOON project has been of great value in translating this vision into practice.

Dynamic inventories

In a circular economy, landfills are no longer endpoints of the consumption society. Today, they should rather be seen as dynamic stocks of materials, energy and land ready to be exploited for the benefits of the local economy and direct surroundings. This way of thinking is steadily growing in popularity and recently the European Union, via Interreg Europe, created a project called COCOON to bring together different stakeholders specialised in DLM. 

To improve this new approach on landfills it is necessary to develop a new working method from which new policies can be derived. This is the main objective of the project partners of COCOON. Besides OVAM, seven other European organisations participate in this project: Cleantech Flanders (coordinator, BE); Department of Environment of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment (CY); Rijkswaterstaat (NL); State Office of Environment of Brandenburg (DE); Environment and Resources Authority (MT); WasteServ Malta Ltd (MT) and Saneamientos de Cordoba (ES). 

Policy instruments as a catalyst for new legislation

The pilot meeting of the project took place in the OVAM offices in February 2017. The mission of the project was to develop policy instruments related to the management and valorisation of landfills and their integration into the circular economy. Each partner has indicated an existing policy instrument that can act as a catalyst for introducing a new approach. For Flanders, this policy instrument is the Soil Remediation Decree (Bodemdecreet) and in the Netherlands, the focus is the Environmental Protection Act (Natuurbeschermingswet). In Andalusia, Brandenburg, Cyprus and Malta the policies used mainly target the improvement of operational programs, e.g. reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and optimising landfill management and costs. 

An action plan was designed, per region, based on the chosen policy instrument, to improve (dynamic) landfill management. In addition, partners must introduce a stakeholder group as an advisory board and develop a landfill management policy. The total budget to fulfil all of these tasks is 1.4 million euros, of which 1.19 million euros is subsidised by Interreg Europe. 

COCOON isn’t the only landfill valorisation initiative in which Flanders participates. As early as 2016, New-Mine was approved as an EU Horizon 2020 project. Both COCOON and New-Mine were initiated in Flanders. 

The COCOON-members delivered innovative landfill management concepts to the European administration (in terms of best practices, peer review, etc.). 

COCOON coordinator