Headlines: November 20th, 2008

Almost a quarter less waste was sent to landfill in 2007 compared to 2001, a new report from the Environment Agency reveals.

In 2001, the year before the EU Landfill Directive came into effect in England and Wales, around 84 million tonnes of waste was sent to landfill, last year the figure stood at 65 M tonnes, a drop of 23 per cent. This equates to about 500 million wheelie bins. The amount of waste landfilled in 2006 was 69 M tonnes, with the 2007 figure showing a drop of more than 5 per cent.

The report also shows that more waste is being recovered and re-used. The amount of waste going into composting sites increased by 44 per cent and inputs into materials recovery facilities was up by 6 per cent between 2006 and 2007.

Landfill capacity has remained about the same year on year, although disposal capacity fell by around 10 per cent between 2001 and 2006, but there was some recovery in 2007 because new inert landfill sites opened.

Available landfill capacity in London, East of England and the South East is now 3 to 5 years, but averages between 5 and 13 years in other regions. These are projections based on 2007 input rates and do not necessarily mean that landfill space will be exhausted in the next few years. However it highlights the urgency that still exists to reduce waste production, promote waste recovery and develop new infrastructure to support this.