Landfill volumes reach record low
A number of landfill sites are said to have closed throughout the UK last year, largely because the volume of waste being traditionally disposed of, fell below 30 million tonnes for the first time.
A study by BDS Marketing Research found that, with 20 landfill sites shutting down in 2013 alone, the tally of closures since 2008 now stands at more than 150.
As a company that has been heavily involved in the UK’s waste prevention, landfill diversion and resource efficiency strategies for some time, these finding are not unexpected for UNTHA UK. For years we have been promoting the importance of minimising the creation of waste at source, and where prevention has not been possible, we have tried to help businesses and local authorities process their waste for reuse, recycling or energy production.
We have therefore been supportive of the UK’s ever-rising landfill charges, which have undoubtedly played a significant role in reducing the amount of waste being dumped. They have been a huge catalyst for change, at a time when landfill diversion targets could no longer be ignored. Initially introduced by the Treasury in 1996, the taxes have risen by £8 per tonne, per year, since 2008. This has meant that, regardless of companies’ environmental consciences, the landfill route has simply become too expensive.
Whilst landfill tax avoidance should not be the only driver for recycling, it has clearly been influential to date – thirty site closures in one year does seem to indicate that progress is being made.
Yet this year, the escalator looks set to be capped at £80 per tonne, and may not be reviewed until 2020. If this limit is indeed imposed, we must wait and see what impact this has on the UK’s waste landscape. We cannot forget that further effort is required to fulfil the EU’s diversion targets and at this stage, the level of effort is perhaps not certain.