An EU sanitary landfill for solid municipal waste intends to “prevent or reduce the adverse effects of waste on the environment, in particular on surface water, groundwater, soil, air and human health” (European Commission, 2014), as established by the EC Waste Landfill Directive of 1999 (Williams, 2005).
First of all, the place where the landfill is going to be established depends on different criteria such as access by roads, geological and hydrogeological stability and the impact on the local environment (Williams, 2005). As municipal waste is classified as non-hazardous waste, the barrier system in order to make the soil impervious, preventing the pollution of the soil, groundwater, and surface water and to ensure efficient collection of the leachate has to be made out material with a hydraulic conductivity of ≤ 10-9 m/s and thickness higher than 1m. Furthermore, it is necessary to keep the leachate to a minimum by using adding a leachate sealing and collection system and to add a drainage lager thicker than 0.5m (Williams, 2005).
Sometimes, it is necessary to have a top liner system to prevent leachate’s formation. For the case of a landfill for non-hazardous waste, it is required to have a surface-sealing, barrier-liner system composed by a gas drainage layer, an impermeable mineral layer, a drainage layer thicker than 0.5m and a top soil cover layer thicker than 1m. For all types of barriers, there is a wide range of materials that can be used in order to provide the desired properties (Williams, 2005).
When it comes to apply the same idea of landfill used in Europe in developing countries, several issues involving technical, economical, political, and social issues arise. First of all, there is the issue regarding the composition of municipal waste in these countries. It consists, mainly, in food waste and green waste, with relatively low concentrations of toxic materials. Because of this, in theory, it would not be necessary to build a sophisticated landfill, along the lines of the European one. However, considering the life expectancy of an average landfill between 30 to 50 years (Macgregor, n.d.), it is reasonable to suppose the composition of waste in developing countries will change due to globalization and development, possibly reaching similar levels to the current European waste. In this case, the landfill would not be ready to deal properly with it and the problem would...