Landfill Tax

Landfilling is discouraged due to a number of key reasons:
  • Climate change caused by landfill gas from biodegradable waste.
  • Loss of resources.
  • Constraints on areas suitable for landfill sites.
  • Loss of recyclable components of waste landfilled.

Landfill tax is seen as a key mechanism in enabling the UK to meet its targets set out in the Landfill Directive. Through increasing the cost of landfill, other advanced waste treatment technologies with higher gate fees are made to become more financially attractive.

 

Following the 2007 Budget the standard rate of landfill tax will be increased from £21 per tonne to £24 per tonne on 1 April 2007. From 1 April 2008 onwards it will increase annually by £8 per tonne until at least 1 April 2010. The lower rate, which applies to specific inactive wastes, will increase from £2 to £2.50 per tonne from 1 April 2008.

 

This landfill tax drives the economics of recycling concrete out of the waste stream. Concrete is a recyclable material. Most people do not stop to think of what happens to the rubble when a structure is demolished, apart from assuming it all goes to landfill. But in fact anything up to 95% of a building's components can be recycled, including the most heavily reinforced concrete 1.


Tackling the tyre mountain
Every year the UK produces 400,000 tonnes of waste tyres, posing a significant environmental problem 2. Legislation prevents the dumping of tyres in landfill.

Currently around 40% of waste tyres are recycled into retreads, all-weather surfaces and other uses, but that still leaves 28 million tyres with seemingly nowhere to go 2.
 
Used tyres make an ideal kiln fuel for the production of cement, without any adverse environmental effects. Kiln temperatures are so high that tyres burn without fumes or flame and what's more, the residue from burning tyres can be chemically treated and reused again as fuel.
 
The obvious pay-off from burning tyres is the fossil fuel and carbon emissions saved. It is estimated that the UK cement industry currently consumes 5.6 million waste tyres. Trials are also underway with other alternative fuels in cement making, such as recycled liquid fuel, inert processed sewage pellets (PSP) and packaging waste.
 
Used tyres have even been recycled into concrete as they contain steel fibre, according to recent research sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The research found that recycled steel fibre (which is cheaper than conventional steel fibre) leads to an increase in concrete's strength, ductility and toughness, making it suitable for a range of specialised applications such as impact and acoustic barriers.
Preserving open countryside
It is projected that up to 60% of the additional 2.8 million homes planned by the government will be built on previously developed, brownfield sites 3 thereby limiting urban encroachment on virgin, greenfield land.
 
The reuse of brownfield land is often made possible by cementitious materials. Cement-based stabilisation, capped by a solid concrete layer, is one way of reclaiming contaminated industrial sites for residential development 4.
 
This method is likely to become more popular in light of the latest EU landfill directive, effective from July 2004, which places further limits on the landfilling of hazardous waste.
References and further information
  1. Specifying Sustainable Concrete, The Concrete Centre, 2017
  2. Demonstrating steel fibres from waste tyres as reinforcement in concrete, DTI Partners in Innovation project
  3. For more information on Brownfield land, visit the UK Land Directory
  4. The Essential Guide to Stabilisation/Solidification for the Remediation of Brownfield Land using Cement and Lime, British Cement Association, 2004