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Landfills are an important part of Victoria’s waste management infrastructure. The siting, management and rehabilitation of landfills requires a high level of design and management to ensure that the environment is protected and community aspirations are met.

Disposal of materials to landfill is the least preferred management option for waste. However, landfills will continue to be required to manage those wastes that cannot be practically removed from the waste stream. Best-practice measures must be adopted to ensure that landfills are acceptable to the public.

In Victoria, only one landfill is licensed to accept Category B prescribed industrial waste. Other landfills across the state are licensed to accept certain Category C (low-hazard) prescribed industrial wastes – for example, low-level contaminated soil, packaged asbestos and odorous wastes such as seafood processing wastes. 

What a landfill is

A landfill is a specially designed and engineered facility for the burial of solid waste.

Historically, landfilling occurred in quarries and gulleys with little or no engineering or lining. Standards have improved over time. Modern landfills are designed with both base and side wall liners, as well as leachate collection systems to minimise leakage of leachate (liquid formed from rainwater and waste breakdown products within the landfill) to groundwater. Waste is deposited and compacted within the landfill, and once the landfill cell is full, it is capped with clay (at a minimum), and rehabilitated.

As landfill designs and processes have developed over time, some closed landfills may not have all the environmental controls listed above.

What materials can go into landfills

Municipal solid waste landfills contain everything we throw away, from food scraps and glass bottles to grass clippings and other yard wastes. There are also landfills that accept solid inert wastes (mainly construction and demolition wastes), prescribed industrial wastes (hazardous waste) and those that accept asbestos. Landfill approvals consider the type of wastes that will be deposited to ensure they are properly constructed and managed.

Landfilled waste contains a wide range of materials, some of which break down, and can, over time, leach into soil and groundwater causing contamination. When waste is landfilled, it is generally compacted down and covered. As organic waste, such as food scraps and green waste, breaks down in an oxygen depleted environment, landfill gas is produced. The main components of landfill gas are methane and carbon dioxide.

Household products that should not go into landfills

Hazardous materials (ones that are toxic, or will corrode metal, or burn, or explode) should not be sent to landfills. Examples include:

  • oven cleaner
  • batteries
  • motor oil
  • paints
  • varnishes
  • thinners
  • fluorescent bulbs
  • mercury switches. 

These materials should be taken to a hazardous waste drop-off site. For more information visit Detox your home on the Sustainability Victoria website.

What happens to waste when it goes into a landfill

When waste is buried underground it will be degraded by bacteria to produce landfill gases. These gases consist predominantly of methane and carbon dioxide, as well as a range of trace gases and vapours depending on the nature of the waste deposited.

Properties listed on the Victorian Landfill Register

If you have received notification that a property that you own has been identified as being on the site of a current or former landfill, no action is required from you. For more information see the Victorian Landfill Register.

If you have information about your property that could benefit other users of the register, or believe your property has been listed in error, please contact us.

For more information, see the waste and closed landfills pages.

Landfill gas assessment

All operators of licensed landfill sites across Victoria must:

  • undertake a landfill gas risk assessment
  • put in place an environmental monitoring program verified by an EPA-appointed environmental auditor
  • have regular environmental audits.

Operators are required to implement audit recommendations through the issuing of an enforcement notice, to ensure risks are kept at an acceptably low level.

The requirements for these risk assessments are set out in the guideline Best practice environmental management – Siting, design, operation and rehabilitation of landfills (publication 788 – the Landfill BPEM). Owners of closed landfill sites may also have to undertake the same work under an enforcement notice.


This page was copied from EPA's old website. It was last updated on 14 December 2018.

Find out about landfills

Reviewed 3 August 2020