What’s it all about?
A landfill is a carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground in which rubbish is isolated from the surrounding environment. Landfills are not designed to breakdown waste, just to bury it. Waste is compacted into a thin layer and covered with soil.
Love them or hate them, Landfill sites have offered a convenient solution to the UK's waste problem for many years. Modern day landfill sites (much improved on their historic predecessors) are closely regulated and well engineered to contain liquid and gas. They make the best of a bad situation.
One of the biggest problems faced with landfill sites is simply the speed we fill them up. This is why it is so important to work on minimising waste and diverting disposal up the waste hierarchy away from landfill.
In an effort to force business users to divert waste from landfill, the government introduced the LFT (Landfill Tax Multiplier) a few years ago. The current LFT multiplier is £8.00 per tonne and this tax levy will continue to be added at that rate until 1st April 2013 when the tax element alone on landfill will be £72.00 per tonne! After that date, the LFT multiplier could remain at £8.00 per tonne, however it’s likely to increase.
The Good Stuff
- Some landfill sites can generate electricity from the capture of methane through a network of pipes, well heads, blowers and other technology. The methane gas is fed to a gas turbine engine(s) and the electricity generated and placed back into the national grid.
- Some Landfill sites pipe purified gas to industrial end-users for process heat.
Owing to the high calorific value of methane gas and negative impact this has on our climate, every effort is made to recover as much methane as possible.
- Waste management companies are also looking at the feasibility of mining for valuable recyclable material contained within landfill sites that have been buried over a number of years.
Not so Good
- Organic waste decomposes slowly in landfill giving off dangerous gases that cause local air pollution and contribute significantly to global warming. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas about 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon.
- Check your service provider has all the relevant waste licensing with our duty of care matrix
- Recycle as much material as possible before resorting to landfill
- Many service providers now divert general waste to an Energy From Waste plant, look for contractors that offer this service for your sites on our contractor list
- If you are diverting Waste to a Transfer station, check where it goes from there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How much waste is sent to landfill in the UK every year?
A. Households in the UK throw 8.3 million tonnes of food away every year. Reducing food waste is a major issue and not just about good food going to waste; wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year and has serious environmental implications too.
If we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the CO2 impact would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.