Instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) based on a nuclear reactor and proton induced X-ray emission (PIXE) based on a 2 Me V Van de Graaff accelerator were used to analyse different environmental samples including coal, sawdust, fly ash and landfill materials. These samples represent a large component of the solid waste being buried in the ground, and may be a potential source of toxicity which can have not only adverse effects on the soil and ground water, if diffused during leaching processes, but may also be transferred to humans through the food chain. Both techniques were employed to determine trace element concentrations in these matrices. The concentration of 30 elements were detemined, namely Na, Mg. Cl, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Br, Rb, Cd, Ba, La, Sm, Eu, Tb, Ho, Yb, Hf, Ta and Th. The detection limits in the various sample matrices were calculated and a comparison was made for those elements commonly detected by both techniques.