Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA) of landfills-a systemic approach: initial application towards a legal landfill assessment

Daniel J. Lang, Claudia R. Binder, Roland W. Scholz, Arnim Wiek, Beat Stäubli, Christian Sieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Assessing landfills in terms of sustainable development (SD) is a difficult task. Landfills might, for example, remain reactive for hundreds or even thousands of years, a fact that conflicts with the fundamental SD principle of inter-generative equity. The Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA) is a comprehensive assessment approach that aims at assessing the potential of a system to hinder or support SD from a systemic perspective. In this paper, we present an initial operationalization of this approach for a pragmatic legal landfill assessment and its application to assess two prototypic Swiss landfills as part of a pilot study. Thereby, the six generic criteria of SPA are specified using 18 Functional Key Variables (FKVs), such as "control of pollutant release" or "resilience to intended human impacts." The first results from the pilot study indicate that SPA and its generic criteria provide a purposeful guiding framework for achieving a systemic and comprehensive SD assessment that seems (i) to be feasible for practical application, (ii) sensitive for relevant SD issues, and (iii) transparent for the addressees of the assessment results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1654-1661
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Landfill assessment
  • Pilot study
  • Sustainability Potential Analysis (SPA)
  • Sustainable development
  • Systemic perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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