0% Landfill Figure Achievable for Britain?

In 2011 new guidelines were stipulated that organisations should apply a waste hierarchy system when disposing of waste into various waste streams (in an environmentally friendly way).

Scotland’s Zero Waste Regulations initiative, which has placed a landfill ban on municipal biodegradable waste by 2020, may have England and Northern Ireland following suit shortly after this year.

Food waste rose by 4.4% between 2012 and 2015, despite the UK’s efforts to cut food waste by 5% before 2016. The question which still remains is how can the UK achieve a 0% rate of waste going to landfill? Cage tipper provider of domestic and commercial waste, Reconomy explores the viability of this proposal.

Ensuring a reduction in fly-tipping

A considerable number of premises are being rented solely for the purpose of fly-tipping and this results in illegal activity through which the contamination of hazardous materials such as asbestos is spread.

For businesses and organisations to contribute to the 0% landfill target in the UK, the buildings they rent out to third-parties should be monitored so as to prevent the occurrence of fly-tipping. The relevant insurance should be obtained so that should this occur, the clean-up operation can be effectively dealt with.

Defining 0% waste

To prevent any of a business’ current waste going to a landfill, to put it quite simply, a zero-waste target will ensure that all waste is recycled. Alternatively, these materials are to be recycled in different ways. The materials for recycling and methods are as follows:

  • Cardboard – recycled in a paper mill.
  • Glass –melted down and fashioned into new glass products and containers.
  • Plastic – recycled and turned into new packaging.
  • Food waste – sent to be used as compost.

As part of processes like incineration and gasification – waste that cannot be recycled is recovered as energy.

Benefitting from a 0% landfill target

Fees are paid to contractors and landfill tax now costs £80 per tonne of waste. This incentivises businesses to reduce their waste as this saves money in addition to benefitting the environment.

Taxation appears to be having the desired effect. Between 2012 and 2014 the total amount of commercial and industrial waste that was produced in the UK saw a reduction of over 5 million tonnes, which amounts to 15% in two years. Going forward, this seems to be a reliable way to ensure landfill waste is reduced. A further increase in taxes may help to further reduce total landfill waste levels.

Organisations with a desire to reduce their landfill waste further could gain the following benefits:

  • Meeting legal requirements
  • Positive PR opportunities
  • Improved environmental performance

The organisation would be at an advantage in terms of lower landfill tax rates as well as public reputation.

Will this target ever be achievable?

The desire for large-scale organisations to have 0% of their waste going to landfill is emerging to be more of a philosophy than a reality. For businesses, it’s a benchmark to be worked towards.

Even during the energy recovery process such as incineration, waste in ash form also gets created. Clearly, more needs to be done in the innovation of these processes for the future so that 0% landfill rates can be achieved in this lifetime.