Waste management – Adaptation


Landfill sites are considerable sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Thus the primary objective in developing waste management must be to reduce emissions throughout the whole of the waste management chain. Coping with changing climatic conditions is particularly an issue when managing old landfill sites and contaminated land.

Increasing precipitation increases leaching of contaminants

An increase in precipitation increases the leaching of nutrients and contaminants from landfill sites. This has to be taken into account in impact assessments and decision making related to waste management. A particular challenge is posed by the hundreds of abandoned waste disposal sites in Finland. The government does not yet regard the need to adapt as so great that it requires changes to existing legislation.

The rise in groundwater levels and increased precipitation could increase the leaching of contaminants into groundwater. There is more and more being done to survey and rehabilitate contaminated land situated in groundwater areas.

Contaminated land to be taken into account in flood protection

Activities which are particularly sensitive to the consequences of flooding should naturally not be located in areas that are liable to floods. With respect to waste management, this includes plants that store and treat dangerous substances as well as landfill sites. On the other hand, exceptional circumstances such as floods and accidents may result in exceptional amounts of waste, and planning should be prepared for treating of them.

Climate change has not had an effect on the production or treatment of waste

According to the Waste management scenario 2016, the amount of waste being generated in Finland is only slowly falling. However, an ever greater amount of it is being utilised as recycled material or being burned for energy. Waste management is becoming local and landfill sites are being concentrated in areas where waste is also processed. As with other logistics, attention has to be paid to the functioning of waste transport. In exceptional circumstances, waste that may possibly accumulate in properties poses a health risk.

Waste incineration produces about 30% ash and co-incineration 10% which has to be disposed of in landfill. The scenario value for the amount of ash generated in waste incineration is about 1/10 of the ash produced in energy generation so changes in waste treatment will not require any radical new adaptation measures.

References [1], [2], [3]