A method is presented to predict the long-term behavior of element concentrations (non-metals and metals) in the leachate of a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill. It is based on water flux and concentration measurements in leachates over one year, analysis of drilled cores from MSW landfills and leaching experiments with these samples. A mathematical model is developed to predict the further evolution of annual flux-weighted mean element concentrations in leachates after the "intensive reactor phase", i.e. after the gas production has dropped to a very low level. The results show that the organic components are the most important substances to control until the leachate is compatible with the environment. This state of low emissions, the so-called "final storage quality", will take many centuries to be achieved in a moderate climate.