THE UK has been praised for “drastically reducing” the amount of municipal waste it sends to landfill. But it still lags behind the top performing countries.
Between 2002 and 2009 the amount of waste to landfill was slashed from 464 kg per head to 259 kg, mostly through prevention, reuse, and separate collection for recycling, composting and anaerobic digestion.
Despite the significant progress however, the UK is still playing catch-up. Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Sweden and The Netherlands all landfilled less than 3% of municipal waste in 2010, while the UK level remained at around 48%. Nine member states continue to send more than 75% to landfill.
The Landfill Tax introduced in 1996 and the recycling targets and landfill allowance schemes introduced for local authorities have been important in encouraging new treatment methods; the UK more than doubled between 2002 and 2009 the amount of waste per head recycled and tripled the amount composted, bringing it into line with EU averages for those activities.