Waste, water and energy firm Veolia is to invest £750 million in its UK recycling operation. Speaking to Reuters, UK chief executive Estelle Brachlianoff said the UK is expected to be an area of “major growth” for the firm in the coming five years.
She cited the country’s regime of steadily rising landfill taxation, implemented in a predictable fashion, as a driver for its now significant recycling industry. This contrasts with other parts of the world where there have been attempts to boost recycling through legislation and subsidies.
UK landfill tax now stands at about £85 per tonne, and the country now sends about 40 percent of its waste to landfill, a proportion that has halved in the past 20 years.
Brachlianoff said that if all of Britain’s waste was recycled it could meet up to 10 percent of its green energy and 2% of its power needs from incineration. It’s still far from being a rival to traditional energy sources like nuclear but it is “significant, not a niche market” she said.
Some waste remains a challenge to do anything with, she said, such as asbestos and inert materials. Waste is generally problematic to burn because the diverse range of materials within it, and it can contain wet organic waste. Some five percent of waste will still go to landfill for quite some time, she told Reuters.