ELFM stands for Enhanced Landfill Mining – the thorough exploitation of waste disposal sites. With its ‘Closing the Circle’ project, Group Machiels will become the first company in the world to build a plasma facility to mine the waste from the Remo landfill site and turn it into energy and usable raw materials.
The research and development of this revolutionary ELFM concept was carried out in conjunction with a Flemish R&D consortium that included the Catholic University of Louvain, the University of Hasselt, VITO (the Flemish Institute for Technological Research) and OVAM (Flemish public waste company). The project was then further refined in a 60-member European R&D consortium (EURELCO) in 13 member states and communicated to the other member states.
The ‘Closing the Circle’ project at the Remo site is the first implementation of the ELFM concept. It will form an exceptional basis for a successful Flemish export product with global exploitation possibilities. It offers Flanders the opportunity to grow into a ‘Competence Centre’, not only in terms of maximum processing but also in total solutions for managing waste in a reliable, sustainable and integrated way.
Gaining raw materials and energy and giving back space
In order to apply the ELFM concept in practice, Group Machiels has established an industrial consortium with the necessary knowledge and capital to market ELFM worldwide in the expansion of a circular economy.
Group Machiels’ first ELFM project is the exploitation of the Remo Milieubeheer landfill site in Houthalen-Helchteren. The site contains over 18 million tonnes of waste. It is estimated that half of domestic and industrial waste can be recovered. The remaining waste has sufficient energy value to turn them into new raw materials via plasma gasification. This process produces syngas, which can later be processed into hydrogen, and slag, which can be turned into high-quality building materials.
The technology has been tested in a pilot facility in the UK with waste from the Remo landfill site. Since it is a new technology, Group Machiels is first building a demo facility that can process 30,000 tonnes of RDF per annum. A commercially-viable facility will have a capacity of at least 100,000 tonnes.
The implementation of this first ELFM project will take at least 20 years and will initially create 100 skilled and unskilled jobs. Later, this will grow into 300 full-time jobs. These two decades will also see a phased redevelopment of the Remo site into a sustainable nature reserve.
The huge potential, the high degree of innovation and the strong social balance make this project the spearhead of Group Machiels’ ‘Closing the Circle’ idea. With ELFM, Group Machiels will help close the materials cycles as part of the migration to a truly green, circular economy.