UK begins task of reducing biodegradable waste to landfill

The UK Government has taken the first step toward complying with the EU-required reduction in the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill sites.


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A consultation paper, Limiting Landfill, has been published and a biodegradable waste strategy will be included in the final draft of the national waste strategy, A Way with Waste, due in early 2000.
The EU Landfill Directive specifies that member states must establish a strategy for the reduction of biodegradable waste going to landfill by mid 2003. The UK has until 2020 to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill by 65%. Other EU member states have until 2016, but an extension has been granted to the UK because of the country’s current poor record in diverting specific waste streams from landfill.
Limiting Landfilloutlines various options for biodegradable waste management, including:

  • a ban on the landfill of all biodegradable municipal waste
  • a ban on the landfill of certain types of biodegradable municipal waste
  • permits for landfill operators to accept biodegradable municipal waste
  • permits for waste disposal authorities to send biodegradable municipal waste to landfill

The consultation will also look at the role of the Landfill Tax in the area of biodegradable waste management and the potential uses of permit trading.
Speaking at the Environmental Services Association’s annual conference, Chris Mullin, MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at DETR, told members of the waste management industry that it is “very disappointing” that not all of the money available under the Landfill Tax Credit scheme is being utilised. “There are still millions of pounds of available credits that have not been reclaimed and put into environmental schemes,” said Mullin.
Mullin also urged landfill site operators to work closely with local communities and councils to identify research and education projects that would best promote more sustainable waste management practices, such as recycling and composting.
Comments on the consultation are due by Monday 29 November 1999. Two seminars in October will be organised by DETR.
Throughout the EU, plans to reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill are being agreed. Hull and East Riding Councils have just announced a joint plan to compost a proportion of domestic waste), while the German Environment Ministry recently announced its intention to eliminate all household waste, including biodegradable waste, to landfill by 2020.

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