The cost of landfill

Why do we need to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill?

Two key reasons, financial and environmental costs:

Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme and landfill tax

Putting waste to landfill costs money both in terms of landfill tax (currently £ 18.00 per tonne) and a disposal fee. Last year Cumbria spent around £ 4m on landfill tax and the landfill tax rate will increase by £ 3.00 per tonne each year. 

The UK's Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS), part of the Waste Emissions and Trading Act, is part of the UK government's response to the EU Landfill Directive 1999. The EU directive requires member states to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill by 25% by 2010, 50% by 2013 and 75% by 2020 compared to 1995 tonnages.

Under LATS, we are set allowances for the amount of biodegradable municipal waste we can send to landfill each year until 2020. This year we have an allowance of 171,647 tonnes - this must reduce by 70% by 2020 to just 51,422 tonnes.

For every tonne of biodegradable waste over the allowance that goes to landfill, waste disposal authorities across the UK will be fined £ 150. This fine is in addition to the cost of landfill and landfill tax.

Environmental costs

Apart from the fines that we will incur if we do not reduce the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill, the environmental impact is significant. Biodegradable waste produces methane in landfill sites - a gas 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.