Landfill regulations

Regulatory agencies around the world have long accepted geosynthetics as an alternative design solution or have out­right required their use in certain applications. The waste management sector has benefi ted more than any other sec­tors, through the requirement to use geosynthetics in munic­ipal solid waste containment and closure systems. Europe, Germany and the United States provide exemplary cases for the incorporation of geosynthetics into environ­mental regulations to prevent or reduce as much as possi­ble, any negative impact from landfilling on surface water, groundwater, soil, air or human health. This is achieved by introducing stringent technical requirements. Europe: The Landfill Directive

The Landfill Directive on the landfill of waste (Council Direc­tive 1999/31/EC of 26 April 1999) is a directive issued by the European Union to be implemented by its Member States by 16 July 2001. The Directive is applicable to all waste disposal sites and divides them into three classes: (I) landfills for inert waste, (II) landfi lls for hazardous waste and (III) landfi lls for non­hazardous waste. The EU Landfill directive requires the protection of soil, groundwater and surface water, achieved by the combina­tion of a geological barrier and a bottom liner (where these barriers can be completed artifi cially and reinforced by other means giving equivalent protection, e.g with a GCL) and in addition to the geological barrier a leachate collection and an artifi cial sealing system (e.g. HDPE 2mm geomembrane) for hazardous and non­hazardous landfi lls.

Germany: BAM & LAGA

Since the late 1970s, Germany’s LAGA (State Working Group on Waste) has issued recommendations for landfi ll liners. The administrative provisions of the Technical Guidelines on Waste (1991) and Technical Guidelines on Municipal Waste (1993) oversaw, inter alia, federal uniformity in landfi ll sea­ling system requirements. LAGA’s work has included harmoni­zation between 40 relevant approval authorities in Germany to create uniform national quality standards (BQS) and pro­duct­specifi c suitability assessments. Alongside LAGA’s work, BAM (Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing) released the NRW Directive for Geo­membranes in 1986 and the Niedersachsen Barrier Code in 1989. The 2009 Landfi ll Directive helped to establish full governing authority for BAM within the landfill sector’s use of geosynthetics. Today, BAM oversees the relevant suita­bility assessments for geosynthetics, regulations which are enforced nationally. Geosynthetic products in German landfill lining systems must offer a minimum of 100­year service lives.

USA: Subtitle D Regulations

The passage of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in 1976 was bound to influence international waste management to some degree, in part because of the enor­mous buried waste sector in the United States. RCRA’s Sub­title D code pertained to municipal solid waste, and by the early 1980s the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was moving Subtitle D to require geosynthetics for long­term lining protection of soils and groundwater. This provided a strong connection between the fields of waste management and geosynthetics, one which would provide a significant scale for projects and study. Double liner systems (primary and secondary liners) have become common and highly effective solutions for contain­ment in municipal solid waste and hazardous waste cells. The effectiveness of geosynthetics in base lining systems and cover systems has led to waste management being the most highly rated sector of infrastructure in the United States (ASCE Report Card on American Infrastructure). Also, the strong record in solid waste has led the US EPA to re­quire similar geosynthetic­based systems for containing the nation’s large coal ash deposits. Overall, the experiences of Germany and the United States underscore why geosynthetics are so welcomed in regula tion. They are supported by an extensive record of performance, have demonstrated steady improvements in installation ef­ficiency and techniques and provide quantifiable, repeatable testing and data to support confidence in the chemical com­patibility, design suitability, economical selection and more for waste management.