When soil changes use…

All around the world, public authorities and industry are turning to Veolia for its methodology of action (cf. infographic) and extreme rigor when it comes to repurposing waste storage sites. This includes coordinating the work and the controls required by local regulations. And when this legislation is evolving, Veolia applies its operating standards on behalf of its clients, going beyond the country’s legislation.
Published in the dossier of December 2019

What are we talking about?

  • The term “non-hazardous waste storage facility (ISDND)” denotes storage sites that comply with current regulatory requirements and standards. As they are Environmentally Protected Facilities, these centers are subject to strict regulations regarding their design, construction, operation, and even post-closure.
  • The term “controlled landfill” is used for any non-hazardous waste storage site subject to regulatory post-closure monitoring. These sites may not have an active formation barrier or leachate and/or biogas management.
  • The term “uncontrolled landfill” is used for uncontrolled waste storage sites not subject to post-closure monitoring.

Any decision by the public authorities to repurpose a waste storage site, whatever the geographical area, must take two parameters into account: the ensuing change of use of the soil and the accompanying strong social and environmental pressures (residents, communities, nature protection organizations, health bodies, etc.). These two powerful drivers strengthen the public will to implement a project to reintegrate the site into its natural environment, urban or otherwise.

In France, as in the majority of developed countries, final waste — in other words, waste from households, companies and institutions that cannot be recycled, recuperated or recovered — is stored in non-hazardous waste storage facilities (ISDND). These structures are subject to extremely strict environmental standards to prevent any pollution of the natural environment by infiltration and to guarantee complete remediation of the site when it reaches the end of its commercial use.

Its expert knowledge of these issues and contexts today allows Veolia to answer calls for tender and requests to intervene in extreme situations of uncontrolled landfills, especially in emerging countries. The example of Akouédo in Côte d'Ivoire is a good illustration (cf. opposite).

The key steps in the remediation of a waste storage site

A - Earthworks and impermeability
B - Drainage
C - Capturing and collecting leachate and biogas (methane)
D - Purifying the leachate before discharge into the natural environment
E - Turning biogas into energy
F - Revegetation

1 - Before the project begins

  • Make sure that the site is administratively closed.
  • Think about the site’s possible reconversion: landscaped park, farming activities, leisure facilities, etc.

2 - Study phase ~3 to 6 months

  • Carry out an environmental diagnosis and research into remediation solutions.
    The Veolia plus: Providing full engineering services for the project.

3 - Work phase up to 2 years

  • Veolia is particularly keen to manage the methane-rich gas from waste decomposition (biogas) along with the polluted water (leachate) produced by the site.
  • Veolia controls and supervises the program of works:

4 - Post closure monitoring up to 30 years

  • After the work to remediate and recondition the site: effluent management and monitoring of receiving environments (surface water, groundwater, air, human health).

The Veolia pluses:

Controlling and supervising the program of works / Capturing and collecting effluent / Purifying the leachate before discharge into the natural environment  / Turning biogas into energy.


Veolia will carry out the remediation project for the Akouédo landfill in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire)

Pollution of the soil, subsoil, air, groundwater, and the neighboring Ebrié lagoon… The closure of the Akouédo landfill is the culmination of environmental considerations and the political will to improve the living conditions of neighboring communities and those downstream of this heavily polluted site.

Timing of the operation 30 months (including research)

December 2018 Closure of the Akouédo landfill by the operator PFO Africa, at the request of the Ivorian government

Early 2019 PFO Africa asks for Veolia’s support and expertise

September 2019 Veolia submits to PFO Africa the detailed design for the works and the results of the preliminary studies

End of 2021 Completion of landscaping



Akouédo in Figures

  • 53 years of uncontrolled open-air dumping
  • 8 million metric tons of untreated waste stored
  • ~1.2 Mt/year of all kinds of (household, hospital, industrial, agrifood, etc.) waste dumped
  • 90 ha of land to be remediated
  • 2.5 years’ research and work
  • ~€100 M for the total cost of the operation

Veolia project manager, refurbishing and securing the site

  • Creating an impermeable layer based on geosynthetic products
  • Laying pipelines and peripheral drains for runoff
  • Facilities for capturing, collecting, storing and treating 80,000 m3/year of leachateFacilities for capturing, collecting and treating biogas
  • Installing a cogeneration unit with a production capacity of 2 MW of green electricity

Major social and societal support

  • Landscaping the site into an urban green space: sporting facilities, training center for environmental professions, open-air cinema, etc.
  • Compensation system for the pollution suffered by the village of Akouédo: improving the thoroughfares, creating a covered market, community clinic and a high school for young girls
  • Information/awareness-raising campaign for residents regarding the works
  • Hiring mostly local residents for the site’s post-closure plan