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UK Waste Tech 2000 -09
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Progress Away from Landfill Disposal of Waste in the Noughties

The story of the big changeover in UK Waste Management from an almost complete dependency on landfill at over 85% to a "minimize, reuse, and recycle" culture for waste really started in 2,000 with the UK Government's Publication of the "Waste Not Want Not" report and the implementation of the Landfill Directive.

On this page we have preserved our original 2008 home page table which shows how things were when this website was first creeated in 2003, and how they were in 2008.

The picture is largely that which applied to  the whole of the decade 2000 to 2010.

The Position in 2003 (when I started this web site):

The position in 2008:

Household (municipal) waste growth was 3% per annum, and that's greater than the growth of the economy as a whole.

Total municipal and household waste (BMW) has increased steadily since 1996/97 by an annual average of 3.0 and 2.3 per cent respectively until 2003/4 when the rise in rates reduced. Forecasts still predict growth in BMW at between 1% and 3% annually. 2006 increases were due to due to increased inputs at material recovery and composting facilities.
2006 figures show reliance on landfill continues to decrease, and inputs are down 4% since 2005 and 18% over the period since 2000; landfill deposits have fallen slowly but steadily and are down 18% since 2001 – equivalent to 15.5 million tonnes.
Inputs to licensed treatment facilities have increased significantly since 2000/1 and the 2006 returns show  significant increases in inputs to materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and composting plants since 2005.
If waste transfer is discounted (almost all 'transferred' waste will have gone on to treatment or disposal) the total amount of waste handled at permitted sites fell in both 2005 and 2006.
(Defra)

We are a wasteful society. 20% of food goes straight into the bin.

Wastefulness remains unchanged although  a growing amount of discarded food is at least being composted. Some recent studies have put current UK rates of food waste even higher at closer to 30%.

28 million tonnes per annum of Municipal Waste was generated, of which 89% is Household Waste.

Each year England generates 100 million tonnes of waste from household, commerce and industry.  Much of this, ends up in landfill where it degrades and generates up to 40 per cent of the UK's methane – or about 3 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.

Over  80% of all household waste was landfilled.

The proportion of total municipal waste sent to landfill had declined from 84 per cent to 72 percent by 2005. Down from 80 million tonnes annually in 2000/2001 to 67.9 million tonnes in 2005.

Landfills contribute 25% of total emissions of methane (CH4), the greenhouse gas which has 21 times more impact than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Landfills continue to contribute a similar proportion of total emissions of methane (CH4), as the total  volume of gassing waste in landfills has risen, but regulation and a favourable economic climate for EfW has ensured very high rates of landfill gas collection and the minimum impact possible.

At the current waste growth, if we do nothing, waste management costs are set to double by 2020  from 1.6bn (€2.2bn) to 3.2bn (€4.3bn).

The spectre of rising costs due to growth has been slightly averted, but waste processing costs are proving consistently high. The Landfill Tax escalator increases the burden on industry each year. Costs are rising per tonne to pay for the new regulations and the new waste processing technologies. Demand for new waste processing infrastructure in the context of a high demand for construction expertise and a general construction skills shortage which already exists is creating high inflation in the waste infrastructure/ PFI market. At least one local authority has stated that their local road maintenance funding has been cut in order to pay for rising waste management costs.

Landfill voids are being filled faster than new ones are being generated, and nobody wants a landfill anywhere near their neighbourhood.

No change, although from now on, as filling rates decline; the life of the existing landfill capacity is being extended.

"It's not sustainable, and we've got to begin to think of waste as a resource and apply the "waste heirarchy" (below right).  That's what Mechanical Biological Treatment is all about."

"We are still a long way from sustainability, but the Government and UK Waste Industry has begun to think of waste as a resource and the application of the "waste heirarchy" has become an integral part of every government waste contract let.

Then and now:

Alternating fortnightly collections for recyclables and mixed waste being tested by just a handful of authorities.

Alternating fortnightly collections are becoming the norm, but are also unpopular and a political "hot potato" and the perceived problems are being well publicised by the media.

With over half the population(England) now considering themselves committed recyclers, recycling rates have increased to 31%.  The recycling of packaging waste has doubled from 27% in 1998 to 56% in 2006. (Joan Ruddock MP; in her speech on 28 January 2008).

Householder penalties, or charges, to those persistently disposing of large waste quantities, or not segregating waste, was unheard of.

Government encouraging LA's to charge householders extra for excessive waste, and also penalise them for persistently placing unsorted waste in their bins for collection.

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