The key aspects of landfill operation that remain unresolved are the extended timescale and uncertain funding of the post-closure period. This paper reviews the topic and proposes an economic instrument to resolve the unsustainable nature of the current situation. Unsustainability arises from the sluggish degradation of organic material and also the slow flushing of potential pollutants that is exacerbated by low-permeability capping. A landfill tax or aftercare provision rebate is proposed as an economic instrument to encourage operators to actively advance the stabilization of landfilled waste. The rebate could be accommodated within existing regulatory and tax regimes and would be paid for: (i) every tonne of nitrogen (or other agreed leachate marker) whose removal is advanced via the accelerated production and extraction of leachate; (ii) every tonne of non-commercially viable carbon removed via landfill gas collection and treatment. The rebates would be set at a level that would make it financially attractive to operators and would encourage measures such as leachate recirculation, in situ aeration, and enhanced flushing. Illustrative calculations suggest that a maximum rebate of up to ~€50/tonne MSW would provide an adequate incentive. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
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