In this article we make the prediction that all UK Landfills will close within 5 Years. The current trend in waste reduction/ diversion from landfill shows that the nation will achieve Zero Waste to Landfill and quite soon as well. That momentous occasion will take place in 5 to 6 years time, according to the figures available, that is by 2022.
The obvious inference from that is that no more sanitary landfills will be needed in the UK, after 2022, and therefore all UK landfills will have to close, because there simply will not be any waste to put in them.
All UK Landfills to Close within 5 Years – The Evidence
The evidence is available at the UK Government website, as shown in the bar chart for UK waste quantities generated, as copied below for your information:
By extrapolating the green “Landfill” waste quantity it is easy to calculate that the amount sent to landfill will drop to zero by 2022.
The reason for this steep fall in waste tonnages sent to landfill, in the UK, is the implementation of EU waste recycling targets, and in particular the fact that the general public which was for so long very strongly against incineration, has come to a grudging acceptance of it. Planning applications for incineration facilities are now becoming easier to obtain, and in general incineration of waste is still cheaper than many more sophisticated waste processing methods which would also divert waste away from landfill.
There is also no doubt that the UK badly needs the energy produced by incineration. This is the result of continuing delays to the commencement of new nuclear energy power stations (e.g. the new Hinkley, nuclear power station in Somerset). It is also due to the inevitable requirements for more coal-fired power stations to close, as carbon emissions from coal fired power stations are reduced.
The UK Waste Management industry has largely ceased opening new landfills in the UK, over the last 5 years, as it could be seen that the investment would not necessarily be repaid by the waste available to be tipped in these new facilities. In 2009, it was said that all the existing landfill capacity would be filled by 2015. Obviously, that has not happened and in general many landfills are still open and accepting waste through the front gate.
Is this Really Zero Waste? Surely Zero Waste should Mean Just That (i.e. Avoidance of the Production of Waste)
Zero waste to landfill is not strictly “zero waste” according to the definition of he green enthusiasts. The view of the “greens” is that the ideal of zero waste is one of “zero waste production”. News of UK landfills to close will be great news.
A very important aspect of the theory of zero waste, is that zero waste should mean zero waste production, by waste avoidance, and waste minimization/ re-use. That would be both much more expensive to achieve, than waste diversion because, as can be seen on the bar chart diagram above, the amount of UK-wide waste produced is not dropping significantly at all.
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