The study by Tolvik Consulting has projected a number of scenarios looking at future level of inputs into landfills under various recycling rate and residual waste treatment facility assumptions.

It predicts that by 2020, there will be around 55 remaining operational non-hazardous landfills in England. This would represent a huge drop over the next eight years as there are currently 245 operating non-hazardous landfill sites, along with 179 inert sites, in the country according to the latest Environment Agency figures published this October.

The report points out that the challenge going forward for landfill operators will be to keep their sites profitable as gate fees fall and revenues from landfill gas decline.

It suggests that those operators who take the time to carefully monitor the local market, maintain dialogue with the regulators, actively manage void (and cost base), and identify additional revenue opportunities, will be more likely to prosper.

The report states: “Whilst in time it is likely that landfill will become the disposal point of last resort for most residual wastes, there will always be a portion of wastes for which landfill is the most appropriate option. It is therefore important for the industry that landfills remain economically sustainable.

“Some comfort can perhaps be had from the experience in mainland Europe which suggests that over time as inputs fall, so the number of operational landfills decline and average inputs for the remaining sites are maintained.”

The study also found that landfill capacity across England isn’t shrinking as fast as previously thought. While there has been a large reduction in landfill inputs in England – down by 45% since 2000 – the reported total void capacity has fallen by just 21% over the same period.

Maxine Perella

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