With the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) coming into force next month, Government, local government and the waste industry are preparing themselves for the change.

“The scheme is to be launched in England on the first of April and is thought to be the first trading scheme in the world involving the waste sector and local authorities,” Environment Minister Elliot Morley explained to edie.

“It is intended to provide local authorities with the flexibility to meet our challenging Landfill Directive targets in the most cost-effective way.”

By enabling councils and other organisations to trade allowances for waste and emissions, the UK will be more likely to meet Government targets by spreading out the burden of making reductions, whilst also avoiding the incurrence of large penalty fines and other costs.

Director of external relations for waste management company Biffa, Peter Jones said that the introduction of trading schemes should help the UK to shift its “dirty man of Europe” tag, and predicted that they would now become central to environmental control measures.

“Traded pollution permits are very much a thing of the future,” he told edie. “They are highly efficient mechanisms that help to avoid tax and subsidies, and there is a strong political feeling that these will be developed further in both the public and private sectors.”

He said that it was not just about addressing separate environmental issues, but that they would be increasingly interlinked as environmental technology grew, with waste minimisation and management becoming more heavily related to lowering carbon emissions and promoting the use of more renewable energy.

“Mayor players are now realising that managing carbon is vital to the development of new waste management technologies,” he continued. “With CO2 reduction being key over the next 10-20 years, we need to promote higher usage and generation of renewable energy rather than committing to carbon-emitting technology that will become quickly outdated.”

Mr Jones added that waste management was just one process under a much bigger umbrella, and the industry needed to look ahead as even by 2010 the world would be a very different place, in which solutions such as landfill would actually be far more expensive as well as impractical compared with newer, more sustainable technologies.

Pollution trading schemes, on the other hand, would strengthen the industry’s commitment and capability to protect the environment.

“The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme will introduce significant and innovative changes in waste policy and practice,” Mr Morley concluded. “Local authorities will need to operate in new and different ways if they are to get the greatest benefits.”

“But by 2010, all authorities will be making an equal contribution to meeting targets through buying and trading their allowances.”

By Jane Kettle

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