In the past, we have relied on landfill as the main way to dispose of our waste. We are working to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill to protect the environment and to reduce costs.
How much waste do we send to landfill?
In 2014/15 we sent 98,000 tonnes to landfill which is under a third of the waste we handle.
The amount of waste we send to landfill has been decreasing in recent years. This is because recycling and composting rates have been increasing. We now recycle 47 per cent of our waste. We have been sending some waste for treatment at existing energy from waste facilities. Also the total amount of waste being produced by households and businesses has reduced with people choosing to throw away less during the recent economic downturn.
Why we can't continue to landfill waste
Modern landfill sites are regulated and monitored by the Environment Agency. The waste hierarchy which sets out the best way to deal with waste shows that disposal through landfill should be the last resort. There will, however, be some kinds of waste for which landfill will be the best and only method of disposal.
Here are the main reasons why we can't continue to landfill:
It damages the environment - when waste rots it produces greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide that can contribute to climate change. Despite efforts to capture methane from landfill, a large amount still escapes to the atmosphere.
It wastes resources - materials and valuable resources which could be recycled are lost and new products have to be made with new raw materials and energy. Heat and power can also be generated from the waste.
National and European legislation - we are required to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. The European Union has set UK targets to limit the amount of biodegradable waste landfilled.
Landfill sites are filling up.
The cost is increasing - the cost of landfilling waste has been increasing significantly. For every tonne of waste we landfill we have to pay a disposal cost and landfill tax. Landfill tax has increased annually over recent years to £80 per tonne in 2014.
What happens to old landfill sites?
After landfill sites are full and restored they'll need to be closely monitored and maintained to ensure that the environment continues to be protected.
We look after a number of former landfill sites which we operated or owned in the past.