Guest Post: The Continued Improvement of UK’s Landfill Sites
In June the Landfill Regulations for England and Wales celebrated their 10th Anniversary. Ten years on, we examine the success of the regulations and pay homage to the dedication of all parties involved in the execution of the directive.
The Landfill Regulations enforced that all landfill sites in the UK were classified into one of three different types of landfill. They were permitted to receive a particular type of waste and were defined as hazardous, non-hazardous and inert landfill sites.
Hazardous Landfill Sites
Only hazardous waste is accepted at these sites. They are excavated and as far from human civilisation as possible due to the harmful toxins in the waste. Any waste that is flammable, reactive, toxic or corrosive is sent to hazardous landfill.
Non-hazardous Landfill Sites
Non-hazardous waste that is biodegradable, combustible and doesn’t possess any physical, biological or chemical hazards can be sent to non-hazardous landfill sites. The waste must be treated before it reaches landfill.
Inert Landfill Sites
Inert waste is waste which is not degradable or combustible but is non-hazardous also. Materials such as rubble, sand, drywall, stone and soil are all inert substances. These types of material are as organically natural as waste can be.
As well as classifying each landfill site into a particular host, many other factors were implemented such as making sure all staff are efficiently trained and capable of managing such large-scale operations.
As you can see in this graph from a statistical release published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), waste that reaches landfill is continuing to decrease year upon year.
This is complement to the hard work and effective protocols instilled by the Landfill Regulations. However they would not have been able to manage this feat alone.
The combined efforts of the Landfill Regulations and the local authorities of the UK are clearly working; recycling is increasing and waste production is decreasing. Operations are being optimised as far down the pecking order as individuals and households and it is a refreshing relief to see these numbers continue to fall year upon year (or rise as the case may be).
Due to initiatives derived by the local authorities and councils, household recycling continues to increase. More information and better facilities to recycle are just a few of the problem solving techniques put forward by councillors to assist the recycling and correct disposal of waste as far back as consumer level.
Over the 10 year period since the Landfill Regulations came into force, the amounts of household waste that were sent to reuse, composting or recycling have increased more than three times. In 2002, around 3.2 million tonnes of household waste went to recycle or reuse. In 2012, the amounts have tripled to 9.7 million tonnes.
Regulations such as the Landfill Directive and bodies including local authorities are helping to keep consumers and households aware of the importance of recycling and reusing waste.
The The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive and the The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive are Governmental initiatives designed to make the landfill process as productive and efficient as possible.
Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive
The ROHS directive was introduced to the UK in July 2006. The directive was enforced to tackle problematic hazardous substances reaching landfill via electrical equipment.
The directive dictates that companies who fail to adhere to the regulations will be brought to justice by Governmental bodies that actively seek out and penalise within the letter of the law. Environmental safety is high on the agenda of the Government and they employ the National Measurement Office (NMO) to monitor and report of any disobedient parties.
It needs to be made clear that when choosing an electrical recycling company to dispose of your own equipment it is essential that you find out whether they are a fully registered business and that they are WEEE and RoHS compliant to minimise the risk of this harmful equipment making its way to landfill.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive
The WEEE directive was introduced to the UK in January 2007. The directive was implemented to reduce and prevent where possible the amount of electrical equipment and appliances that make their way to landfill.
The initiative was introduced to clamp down on careless businesses and individuals that dispose of – often hazardous – electrical equipment and its components.
Electrical landfill has been a major problem in the UK so the time came when the Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment Regulations board of 2006 introduced the WEEE directive and enforced a law whereby businesses and individuals who dispose of electrical equipment need to reuse working parts, repair if necessary and, where possible, use these parts in the recycle process to create refurbished equipment.
So now, a decade later, it is quite safe to say that the Landfill Regulations have done a sterling job thus far. And long may that continue.
Adam Veitch writes on behalf of LCWS Computer Recycling Ltd, an eco-friendly laptop and computer recycling company from Lancashire.