England beating landfill targets

England is already beating its 2010 target to reduce the amount of biodegradable household waste heading to landfill.

An Environment Agency report released to mark the third anniversary of the beginning of the Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS) showed local authorities are surpassing the target of a 25% reduction from 1995 levels.

In 2007-08, local authorities were required to landfill no more than 13.6m tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste, but only sent 10.6m tonnes to landfill.

No authority was liable for a penalty for exceeding its landfill allowance.

Dr Paul Leinster, chief executive at the Environment Agency, said: “We recognise that exceptional market conditions could make it more challenging for local authorities to meet recycling targets.

“However, the LATS scheme is unique in Europe in giving local authorities flexibility in how they meet their landfill diversion targets by buying, borrowing and selling allowances as market demand fluctuates.

“England has tough but important targets to reduce the amount of household waste rotting in our landfills, which contributes to climate change by releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.”

Environment Minister Jane Kennedy said: “Local authorities are to be congratulated on the way they are tackling the diversion of waste from landfill.”

She added: “The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme gives them the right flexibility to meet their allowances year on year.

“This flexibility is enabling local authorities to achieve the major goal of reducing the waste ending up in landfill.”

The report shows that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets landfilled 26.2% more than its allowances, but bought allowances to avoid fines, while Hampshire County Council had the most surplus and sold 22.8% of its allowances to other authorities.

Twelve authorities landfilled more than their allocations in 2007-08.

Kate Martin

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