Sustainable Materials Management

Our future natural resources are to be extracted from the built environment.

In an ever-increasing rate, resources are extracted from nature and moved into society where they are used for some time in buildings, infrastructure and various products. When these materials then are discarded, our waste management systems often result in significant losses of valuable resources. As a consequence, almost half of the amounts of natural resources extracted to date are no longer in use but could be found in various obsolete material stocks in our surroundings, in abandoned buildings and infrastructures and different waste deposits. Our research deals with how we could exploit these, often forgotten, resources in a more efficient and sustainable way. 


We are a multidisciplinary research group consisting of engineers and social scientist working on developing knowledge, strategies and methods for extraction of natural resources from obsolete material stocks in society such as from disconnected power and telecom networks and various waste deposits. Through system analysis studies and a close collaboration with industry, we address the technical, environmental, market and policy challenges of realizing a societally-motivated valorization of natural resources from these future mines.

Landfill mining


The project - Landfill Mining 2.0 – Development of concepts, strategies and measures for improved economic and environmental performance aims to develop technical and organisational concepts for facilitating resource extraction from landfills, provide guidance on essential topics for future research and specify the needs for changes in policy and market conditions. Landfill mining case-studies, systems analysis assessments and interview studies are conducted in an integrated manner to identify critical challenges and develop technical, organisational and regulatory measures and conditions for implementation. The project is funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova and involves collaboration with Swedish companies - Stena Metall Ltd, Norvästra Skånes Renhållnings Ltd and Tekniska Verken Ltd.

Urban mining 

The project - Urban Mining – Development of business models through implementation of pilot projects aims to develop knowledge on when, where, how and by whom metal recovery from subsurface infrastructure can be justified from an environmental and economic perspective. Three significantly different pilot projects are initiated and evaluated in order to identify re-occurring critical factors and conditions influencing performance. Several interview studies are then conducted aiming to develop concepts for a more sustainable governance of infrastructure including re-circulation of disconnected cables and pipes. The project is funded by the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova and involves cooperation with Swedish companies Skanova TeliaSonera Ltd, Stena Recycling Ltd and Tekniska Verken Ltd.


Apart from working together with Swedish infrastructure, recycling and waste management companies, we also collaborate with other researchers and networks. We are part of the Swedish research and innovation program Re:Source and a member of the recycling actor network Competence Center Recycling
We are collaborating with several international research groups, for instance, the Technical University of Vienna in Austria and the University of Leuven in Belgium. We are also represented in the steering group and working groups of the European consortium EURELCO – European Enhanced Landfill Mining consortium.





Energy and Environment research at LiU