Introduced in 1996, Landfill Tax was seen as the key mechanism to help help the UK meet its targets set out in the Landfill Directive.
The construction industry alone is responsible for 109 million tonnes of waste, it is estimated that 36 million tonnes of this waste is sent to landfill (around 32%). To try and accelerate the goal of reducing this percentage, in 2011 the chancellor put a Landfill Tax Escalator in place; this would be an annual landfill tax increase of £8.00 per tonne until 2014. In 2015, landfill tax increased in line with inflation, with the standard rate rising to £82.60 per tonne, whilst the lower rate which applies to less polluting waste including bricks, concrete and stone with small amounts of plaster and wood rose from £2.50 to £2.60.
The current rate of landfill tax currently stands at £84.40 per tonne for the higher band, whilst the lower rate rose by just 5 pence in April to £2.65 per tonne. Even with these high rates of tax, landfill sites are reaching capacity, and with the continuing growth of the construction industry, the need for space has never been greater. It is obvious that a new approach to dealing with waste is needed.
The Circular Economy - A Zero Waste to Landfill Initiative
Our attitude towards waste is shifting; more awareness on site towards reducing the volume of waste produced is increasing, and people are beginning to 'buy-in' to the Circular Economy philosophy. Revolving around a few main principles the circular economy is the idea that all products can be interconnected, effectively forming a circular with nothing going to waste. This could be reusing something, or recycling it. If it can't be recycled can it be used as fuel to produce energy or can it be used as a resource. Even the way in which products and goods are developed and manufactured can be rethought? Can components be used from recycled materials, or can different materials be used? With the idea being that when the product has reached the end of its life cycle it can be dismantled and used again.
The key features of the circular economy include:-
Reducing the volume of waste created
Rethinking the make-up of products and machinery to further-extend their life cycles
Harnessing the energy of leftover waste for fuel and other resources
Construction Waste - An EU Perspective
In 2008 the revised EU Waste Framework Directive set a target for its memeber states for 70% of all construction, excavation and demolition waste to be recycled by 2020. Article 4 of the directive , introduced the concept of the waste hierarchy. The waste hierarchy puts the onus onto reusing and recycling materials, rather then the 'throw-away culture' the current economy has adapted.
1. The following waste hierarchy shall apply as a priority order in waste prevention and management legislation and policy:
(b) preparing for re-use;
(d) other recovery, e.g. energy recovery; and
2. When applying the waste hierarchy referred to in paragraph 1, Member States shall take measures to encourage the options that deliver the best overall environmental outcome. This may require specific waste streams departing from the hierarchy where this is justified by life-cycle thinking on the overall impacts of the generation and management of such waste.
Member States shall ensure that the development of waste legislation and policy is a fully transparent process, observing existing national rules about the consultation and involvement of citizens and stakeholders.
Member States shall take into account the general environmental protection principles of precaution and sustainability, technical feasibility and economic viability, protection of resources as well as the overall environmental, human health, economic and social impacts, in accordance with Articles 1 and 13..."
Benefiting Your Company and the Economy
Reducing the levels of waste being sent for is not just a benefit to the environment, the picture is a much bigger one. Taking into consideration the circular economy philiosphy, you can see real financial benefits for your company. Here are just a few ways of how you can implement the concept:-
- Utilise the planning stage; try not to over order.
- Consider whether matierals can be moved between sites
- Sourcing reclaimed materials where possible
- Consider on-site segreagation to avoid unnecessary waste streams going to landfill
- Utlise excess materials on other sites
- Follow the principle Plan > Reduce > Reuse > Recycle > Resource
Have you considered having a SWMP completed for your next project? Although no longer a legal requirement, NatWaste can develop and implement a waste management plan for you; so that you can start realising real benefits to reducing the waste that you send to landfill. Get in touch today on 0845 415 4152 or click here to see how we can help.