RESTRICTING some types of rubbish from landfill could deliver significant benefits to the UK – saving as much as £8.25 billion and 189 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2024.
This is the conclusion of new research from WRAP, carried out on behalf of the UK’s Governments, which demonstrates that there could be financial and environmental benefits from pre-sorting and/or restricting some waste from landfill.
The research, Landfill Bans: Feasibility Research, shows that to realise the full benefits, the UK would need to increase prior sorting of materials so that recycling rates and quality could be sufficiently improved. The report estimates this could take between four and seven years to bring into effect.
But the research also reveals that such a move should ultimately reduce costs for the taxpayer because recycling will cost less than sending all this waste to landfill – if the right materials are targeted and the system operates effectively.
The report includes a detailed review of all available literature on the subject as well as an examination of how bans and restrictions on sending rubbish to landfill work in other countries. It looks at examples in Europe and the US, to assess whether other approaches might work in the UK.
It also examines the environmental and financial costs of alternative waste treatments, such as recycling and composting for waste streams compared with landfilling them. In-depth discussions were held with a range of stakeholders to look at how this would work in practice.
Liz Goodwin, CEO, WRAP, said: “This piece of research shows that we could make some significant financial and environmental savings if we stopped sending certain types of rubbish to landfill.
“However, in order to make this successful, we will need to increase our sorting infrastructure and introduce the change over a suitable time period to ensure it happens smoothly and effectively.”
Hilary Benn, Environment Secretary, said: “We are serious about tackling the huge mountain of waste that needlessly ends up in landfill. So much of what we throw away has an economic value or can be re-used, but instead we are burying it.”
The materials identified as offering the best potential for greenhouse gas savings were (in order of priority): paper/card; food; textiles; metals; wood; and green waste.