9 Types of Landfills and Characteristics Explained

Types of landfills are; municipal, industrial, commercial, demolition, area, trench, ramp, sanitary, and non-sanitary landfills.

They are classified based on type of waste, site configuration/characteristics, and method of waste disposal.

This article discusses the types of landfills, as follows;



1). Municipal Landfill (as one of the Types of Landfills)

Municipal landfill (or ‘municipal solid waste landfill’; MSWLF), is a type of landfill that receives mainly waste from domestic sources.

Such waste is referred to as municipal waste, domestic waste, or household waste; and includes organic inorganic materials.

Components of municipal solid waste include plastics, food waste, and garden waste; among others [3].

Generally, municipal landfills are not equipped to contain hazardous materials or slurry. While some of these landfills are still used for the disposal of such waste, it is not a sustainable practice.

Municipal landfills are usually located in urban or suburban parts of developed countries, although they are beginning to be adopted in developing countries as well.

The sites used are usually either areas which have undergone extensive erosion, excavation, unsustainable mining, pollution, or some other form of degradation which has decreased their value and rendered them unusable for residential or commercial purposes.

Well-engineered and maintained municipal landfills (in combination with waste-to-energy applications) can be very effective for controlling plastic pollution in their environs, as well as for containing the large volume of waste that is produced consistently in municipalities [2].

Such ‘well-engineered’ municipal landfills are equipped with liners at the bottom, to prevent direct exposure of soil and groundwater to wastes.

They are also often equipped with air vents, landfill gas collection systems, and leachate collection-and-treatment equipment to manage biogas and leachate respectively.

Their high organic content implies that municipal landfills can serve as sources of renewable fuel; also called biofuel, biogas or landfill gas [1].

This flammable gas is produced during the biodegradation of municipal organic solid waste (MOSW), and its collection may be seen as a form of energy recovery.

However, ideal practices suggest to divert organic waste from landfills, to prevent odors, pathogens and vermin that can result from decomposition. These materials may be treated in a waste-to-energy facility where they can be used to produce bioenergy.


2). Industrial

Industrial landfill, or industrial waste landfill; is a type of landfill that is designed or equipped specifically for the collection of industrial waste.

Industrial waste itself refers to all materials that are byproducts or leftovers of industrial processes like manufacturing and material conversion, which have been rendered useless.

Efforts are usually made to ensure that industrial landfills do not receive any industrial byproducts or leftovers that are too hazardous to be safely held; and which may cause damage to the ecosystem. As a result, it is recommended for waste materials to be sorted before being sent to an industrial landfill.

Also, waste materials that can effectively undergo recycling are sorted out, to reduce the risk of resource depletion.

Careful precautions in industrial landfills include the use of good liner materials and leachate collection equipment.

Lastly, wastes introduced into an industrial landfill are not always disposed there permanently, but may be temporarily stored for later removal and relocation to another disposal or treatment site.

Types of Landfills: Industrial Landfill (Credit: Trudy Mercadal 2007 .CC BY 2.0.)
Types of Landfills: Industrial Landfill (Credit: Trudy Mercadal 2007 .CC BY 2.0.)


3). Commercial (as one of the Types of Landfills)

Commercial landfills (or commercial waste landfills) are landfills which specifically receive waste that is produced from commercial activities.

Commercial waste can be described as all useless materials produced on business premises of all kinds, including educational and recreational businesses.

It is produced in the process of marketing products or services, and is different from industrial waste which results from product manufacturing or raw material handling.

Commercial waste is mostly non-hazardous, and often similar in composition to municipal or household waste. This means that basic precautionary measures can be implemented to manage such waste effectively, with minimal environmental impact.

The use of commercial landfills is often a cheap and easy way for businesses in the commercial sector to dispose the large volume of waste which they produce. Corporations may play the role of collection, disposal and landfill maintenance.


4). Demolition

Demolition landfill; also known as construction and demolition landfill (CDLF), is a less-common type of landfill that receives primarily rubble and debris derived from the demolition, modification reconstruction of engineering structures like buildings, bridges, dams and roads.

Earth material produced during excavation can also be dumped in demolition landfills.

This type of landfilling is a good option in areas where regular supply of such waste is available; as well as where land reclamation is an important goal.

Demolition landfills may be privately or publicly operated. The waste is usually non-hazardous and mostly inorganic; such as concrete and asbestos, although it may include organic biomass in the form of wood from frames and other fittings.

Types of Landfills: Demolition Landfill (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2011)
Types of Landfills: Demolition Landfill (Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2011)


5). Area (as one of the Types of Landfills)

Area landfill is a type of landfill in which area method of landfilling is applied.

This method involves the dumping of waste on level land, where it is compacted and covered with earth.

It is practiced in low-lying areas, or areas where severe pollution has occurred.

Area landfills are not recommendable where other types can be used, and are not suitable to be used within proximity of residential areas.


6). Trench

Trench landfills are managed using the trench method of landfilling, which involves dumping and burying waste in trenches or pits formed by excavation, or natural hazards.

In terms of versatility, safety, and capacity; trench landfills are good for handling various types of waste in various geographical areas, in comparison to area and ramp landfills.

They are also the most common of the three.


7). Ramp (as one of the Types of Landfills)

Ramp landfills are used in areas very irregular or sloping topography, where land resources have become unusable for other purposes.

It is similar to trench landfills, but operates based on the ramp landfilling method; whereby the depressed land areas are filled with waste, which forms ramps when compacted and covered.


8). Sanitary

A sanitary landfill is a type of landfill in which waste is carefully and completely isolated from the environment [4].

In sanitary landfills, the goal is to ensure that wastes are contained effectively, without putting the ecosystem at any risk. The approach aims to mitigate all possible effects of landfills on the environment, by treating the landfill as a closed, distinct system.

Engineering knowledge and skills are needed for the design of sanitary landfills, which are generally equipped with liners and collection/treatment equipment for segregating both waste and its byproducts.

The idea behind sanitary landfills is widely accepted and applied due to its sustainability, so that this type of landfill is most recommended and very common in developed countries like the United States where landfilling is practiced.

Types of Landfills: Sanitary Landfill (Credit: Eric Guinther 2003 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Types of Landfills: Sanitary Landfill (Credit: Eric Guinther 2003 .CC BY-SA 3.0.)


9). Non-Sanitary (as one of the Types of Landfills)

As the name implies, non-sanitary landfill is any landfill that allows a significant level of contact to occur between waste or waste byproducts, and the environment.

Such landfills are not recommendable, and result from unsustainable landfilling approaches, especially in areas where proper practice based on standards and regulations, is not enforced.



Types of landfills are;

1. Municipal Landfill

2. Industrial Landfill

3. Commercial Landfill

4. Demolition Landfill

5. Area Landfill

6. Trench Landfill

7. Ramp Landfill

8. Sanitary Landfill

9. Non-Sanitary Landfill



1). Demirbaş, A. (2006). “Biogas Production from the Organic Fraction of Municipal Solid Waste.” Energy Sources, Part A: Recovery, Utilization and Environmental Effects 28(12):1127-1134. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/009083190910479. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

2). Hidayah, N.; Syafrudin, S. (2018). “A Review on Landfill Management in the Utilization of Plastic Waste as an Alternative Fuel.” E3S Web of Conferences 31(1-2):05013. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1051/e3sconf/20183105013. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

3). Olaide, A.; Dias, A. G. (2020). “Municipal Solid Waste Characterization as a Measure towards Sustainable Waste Management in Abuja, Nigeria.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.26502/jesph.96120084. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

4). Oyebode, O. (2017). “Design Of Engineered Sanitary Landfill For Efficient Solid Waste Management In Ado –Ekiti, South-Western Nigeria.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320161161_Design_Of_Engineered_Sanitary_Landfill_For_Efficient_Solid_Waste_Management_In_Ado_-Ekiti_South-Western_Nigeria. (Accessed 8 November 2022).

Similar Posts