Will Britain ever achieve zero per cent landfill figures?

12th July 2017 | Recycling

In 2011, new guidelines were introduced that stipulated organisations should apply a waste hierarchy system when dealing with and disposing of their waste. These rules suggest that all organisations who deal with waste should dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way.

By 2020, as part of the Zero Waste Regulations, Scotland has placed a landfill ban on municipal biodegradable waste: in the UK, this is the first ban of its kind, which could see England and Northern Ireland following suit shortly afterwards.

Despite the UK’s efforts to cut food waste by five per cent before 2016, food waste actually rose by 4.4 per cent between 2012 and 2015. Now, the question still remains, how can the UK achieve a zero per cent rate of waste going to landfill?

What defines zero waste to landfill?

Simply stated, zero waste to landfill means that none of the current waste streams arrive at a landfill site. Instead, these materials are recycled in different ways. The materials, and the method of recycling, are as follows:

  • Cardboard – recycled in a paper mill
  • Glass – melted down and then created into new glass products and containers
  • Plastic – recycled and made into new packaging
  • Food – sent to be used as compost.
  • Any other waste that cannot be recycled is recovered via energy from waste, in processes such as incineration and gasification.

To ensure that all of an organisation’s waste is recycled, audit trails will need to be established to guarantee that all materials have gone to the correct recycling facility. If they can’t be tracked, then the zero per cent landfill label cannot be attributed to that organisation’s waste, which is why tracking is so important within this process.

However, tracking systems are often difficult to implement, and time-consuming to monitor. This then, casts doubt on whether organisations through the UK, and the world, are able to direct all of their waste streams to recyclable solutions.

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