Exploring opportunities for Fukuoka method of landfilling in India

Fukuoka method of landfilling

The UN-HABITAT organized an exclusive webinar for municipal officials and waste experts on Japan’s highly successful Fukuoka Method of landfilling (details regarding the technology are given below), a semi-aerobic landfill disposal technology for solid waste, developed and practiced in Japan (see box for more information). This landfill technology is the world’s first accredited method to control methane emissions at landfill sites and the technology has been replicated in several countries including China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia.

The webinar boasted of an esteemed panel including Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) Member Secretary Prashant Gargava, Pooja Varma – Urban Governance Expert at UN-HABITAT, Swati Sambyal Singh – Waste Management Specialist, UN-Habitat’s India Country Office, and Srinivasa Popuri – Senior Human Settlements Officer, UN-HABITAT. Two eminent experts Dr Matsufuji Yasushi (Fukuoka University) and Ms Sachiyo Hoshino (UN-HABITAT) also shared their experience in implementing the Fukuoka method in different countries.

In his keynote address, Dr Gargava said, “Landfill remediation is the need of the hour and we shall be happy to work with UN-HABITAT to validate the Fukuoka method and look at its adoption in Indian cities.” Here are some of the other highlights from the webinar:

  • Ms. Swati Singh Sambyal, Waste Management Specialist, India Country Office, UN-HABITAT

While the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) has led to a paradigm shift by increasing awareness and involving citizens in sanitation and waste management issues, a lot more work is required on source segregation and waste processing. As per CPCB’s data on dumpsites, India still has 3,159 operational dumpsites. Uttar Pradesh tops the charts, with 609 dumpsites, followed by Madhya Pradesh, with 378, and Maharashtra, with 327 dumpsites. Landfill capping and biomining are two possible solutions for managing dumpsites currently being explored in the country. Many municipalities lack the budgets to opt for remediation of their dumpsites; hence these lands continue to pollute leading to excessive groundwater pollution, methane gas emissions, and fire-hazards. There is an urgent need to look at affordable and effective integrated solutions for landfill site management. In the Indian context, we need more solutions for dumpsites/ landfill management focussed towards using local resources, emphasizing on segregation, recovery of recyclables, and provide jobs to the informal sector.

  • Ms Sachiyo Hoshino, Special Advisor to the Director, Regional Officer for the Asia and Pacific, UN-HABITAT

The Fukuoka method is very scientific and the economics of the technology can be worked around depending on the capacity and resources available to local governments. One of the other advantages is that it can be introduced at any stage of landfilling – be it a new or existing landfill. It can even be used to convert a 50-year old completed site into a sanitary landfill. We have also been successful in adapting the technology in all types of weather conditions – be it in the dry, arid desert climate of Iran or hot and humid climes Malaysia. It has also succeeded in Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have weather conditions similar to India. 

  • Dr Matsufuji Yasushi, Professor Emeritus, Fukuoka University, Japan

Local governments in developing countries don’t have sufficient funds and this technology provides a cost-effective SWM solution. It is simple to build with locally available material and manpower. Today, 80 percent of local governments in Japan use the Fukuoka method of landfilling. Leachate treatment is also very simplified through biological treatment followed by chemical processing. This method is also environmentally friendly (UNFCC approved in 2011) and reduces methane emissions.

The session concluded with a poll asking attendees whether this method would be useful for remediation of landfills in India. A whopping 98 percent voted ‘Yes’.

Screenshot of presentation by Dr Matsufuji Yasushi, Professor Emeritus, Fukuoka University, Japan


The Fukuoka method refers to a semi-aerobic landfill structure whereby leachate is quickly removed from waste materials, allowing the inflow of air by installing perforated collection pipes and vertical perforated gas venting pipes at the bottom of the landfill. As the outlet of the perforated collection pipe is always open, the air flows naturally using internal fermentation heat, without the need for an external energy source.

By maintaining aerobic conditions in the waste bed interior, the Fukuoka Method accelerates the decomposition of waste materials, improves leachate water quality, and inhibits the emission of methane gas.

Experts believe that since most of India’s landfill sites are anaerobic, the Fukuoka Method will enable substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and have several other health, socio-economic and environmental benefits.

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