A correct waste containment philosophy consists of:

  1. optimisation of the landfill location,

  2. construction of high performance lining and capping systems,

  3. optimisation of waste storage,

  4. short and long term careful monitoring, and

  5. a convenient re-use of the landfill area after closure.

The geotechnical engineer has strong skills about all the aforementioned topics but in particular can effectively deal with the design, construction quality control and monitoring of the lining and cover systems, the waste storage and compaction procedure, and the foundation and improving treatments for constructions above waste deposits. Due to the large number of geotechnical aspects involved into the above listed issues, only the following topics will be discussed within the present paper:

  1. lining systems for landfill base and sides,

  2. covers and

  3. vertical cut-off walls.

Each of these topics has been developed referring to their background, recent developments and new trends. In particular, the fundamentals of updated design procedures will be illustrated with particular reference to conceptual and practical modelling and assessment of related input parameters. Moreover the main literature references will be provided. At the end of the paper, a section, devoted to containment systems for polluted subsoil and abandoned landfills, has been developed in order to deal with one of the most interesting areas as far as the present progress and future advancements are concerned.


The main steps in the progress of modern solid waste containment systems, within the last decade, can be resumed in a rough chronological order as follows: · recognition of the importance of construction procedures on the field scale performances of compacted clay liners (CCLs) and the consequent set up of guidelines for a correct and effective installation (Daniel, 1989, 1993; Jessberger, 1994a; and Daniel & Koerner, 1995).

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