Landfill directive will bring significant changes to landfill in Scotland

Implementation of the European Union Landfill Directive will require significant changes to current landfill site operations in Scotland, according to the Scottish Executive as it launches a consultation on the challenges and opportunities facing the waste industry.


The directive aims to standardise the engineering, operation and regulation of all landfill sites throughout the European Union, and includes a requirement that different classes of waste, such as hazardous or inert wastes, should no longer be disposed of in the same landfill sites. Certain types of waste will be entirely banned from landfill, such as liquid wastes, tyres, and a number of hazardous wastes, placing the burden of their disposal on waste producers. However, such a move would create an opportunity for the waste management industry to develop alternative facilities.

“Implementation of the Landfill Directive is an important step in moving to a more sustainable system of waste management, not just in Scotland, but throughout Europe,” said Environment Minister, Sam Galbraith. “But as the directive will have a significant effect on local authorities, waste management companies and waste producers, it is important that we seek their views on the challenges and opportunities that implementation will bring. Clearly, the greater agreement we have, the easier implementation will be later this year.”

According to the Scottish Executive, it is committed to reducing the country’s reliance on landfill, which currently makes little practical use of waste and could be a missed opportunity to recover value from waste, though acknowledges the important role that it has to play in waste management both now, and in the foreseeable future.

One of the aims of the landfill directive is to reduce methane emissions, and that remaining emissions are used productively. Currently in Scotland, a greater amount of landfill methane is burnt off as flares rather than to produce energy, though in the future it will be required to be collected and treated.

Compliance with the directive will start from 16 July 2001 for all new landfill sites. Operators of existing sites will have to submit a plan for their site to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) by 16 July the following year, though the ban on tyres to landfill will not come into effect until July 2003, and on shredded tyres until July 2006.

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