In Flanders, in 2022, less than 2% of waste will be landfilled, but because until the start of waste policy in 1981, landfilling was the most common method of waste treatment, Flanders has also a large landfill area. In total, this concerns more than 2,500 landfills covering more than 100 square kilometers.
This area should be examined for soil hazards and cleared if necessary. OVAM points out that it is also a useful space that can be reused for nature, recreation and entrepreneurship. To this end, the organization has developed a sustainable landfill inventory management approach. A map shown now shows the location of known landfills in Flanders. It is part of the European INSPIRE directive aimed at making government geographic data more accessible to governments and the public. Flanders is therefore the first European region to make landfill information available on this scale.
The map has more than 2,500 “contours”, but these do not yet show an exact demarcation of the landfills. They refer to administrative plots for which landfill activities are known. It is therefore possible that several discharge identifiers actually constitute 1 discharge. In collaboration with the local authorities and on the basis of the data provided by them, the OVAM is constantly working to improve the quality of the contours.
By mapping these landfills, OVAM is taking an important first step towards the reuse of space. By 2028, all historical landfills must have undergone a first soil study. If necessary, the soil will be remediated.
OAM points out that recent examples show that the possibilities vary. For example, today the sites of former landfills are “reused” as business parks, recreation areas, solar parks or as forest and nature reserves. “Open space is a precious commodity in Flanders. We also want to protect them as much as possible with creative solutions,” says Flemish Minister for Energy and the Environment Zuhal Demir. “By mapping old landfills and repairing them if necessary in a timely manner, we are opening up around 100 square kilometers of new space that we can use for more nature or for economic development. This inventory is an important first step to safeguard our open space in Flanders without slowing down our prosperity.
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