Zero Landfill is possible today. It involves organising collections for resource
recovery, mandating recycling, composting organics and food, making manufacturers
of durable goods responsible for designing recyclability into their products and
buying recycled materials to make their products.
Waste Processing Plants can now deal with all waste in addition to being commercially
viable. Landraise is obsolete, polluting, a waste of valuable resources, and just
plain stupid. More Info pfd's including EU Landfill Directive are on Technical page
If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss is about recycling, take a look at this
graph from UNEP:
Yep, that’s plastic bags wafting about for a thousand years, and bottles kicking around
forever. Each of us in the UK personally throws away 4.5 times our bodyweight in garbage,
and that’s a figure that until recently has been rising by 3.2% each year. Around three
quarters of that goes to landfill.
The most obvious problem with landfill as a waste strategy is where to put everything –
what do you to hide an annual total of 22 million tons of trash? But that is not the
end of the problem. Medical research has linked proximity to landfill sites to lung,
throat, and prostate cancers, asthma, kidney damage, and to increased risk of birth
defects including cleft palate, low birth weight, and premature birth.
Then there’s the smell. With smells capable of reaching a mile from the actual sites,
the potential for ‘odour events’, as the industry calls them, is high. Unsurprisingly,
houses where odour events occur are worth less – £5,500 less if you live within a quarter
mile of a dump. Add that up across the country, and landfill costs the economy
£2,483,000,000 in lost housing revenue. Hmm....
If that’s not enough, consider the emissions. Decomposing rubbish gives off methane,
a greenhouse gas twenty times as powerful as CO2. Around 27% of the UK’s methane
emissions are from landfill.
According to the
EU’s waste directives,
the best policy for waste is not to make it.
Sensible enough, and many countries are implementing measures to reduce waste.
Then comes re-use, and then re-cycling. (re-use would see empty glass bottles
collected and re-filled, for example, whereas re-cycling breaks the bottles down
and remakes them.) If you can’t do that, says the EU, at least you can incinerate
your waste and generate electricity from it. The worst thing to do for the
environment is to find a big hole to dump it in. Currently the UK sends 77%
of its waste to landfill.
It is estimated that around 580 kilogrammes of municipal waste was produced on average
by each person in the EU-15 countries in 2003. Greece landfills over 90% of its municipal
waste, and Portugal and the United Kingdom landfill around three quarters of their
municipal waste. The Netherlands and Denmark dispose of almost no municipal waste
to landfill, and Belgium, Sweden,Germany and Luxembourg all landfill less than a
quarter of their municipal waste.
In Denmark, Sweden and Luxembourg incineration is the single main method of disposal
and over half of Denmark’s municipal waste is treated in that way. The Netherlands
and Austria recycle/compost around 60 per cent of their municipal waste and Belgium
and Germany recycle/compost around half of theirs.
Note: Only broad comparisons can be made between countries because of
differences in definitions of types of waste management. The recycling category
includes some other recovery options (fuel manufacture, for example), which are
negligible in most countries, but account for around 10 per cent of municipal
waste in Germany, and 6 per cent in Spain.
In Detail: Municipal waste
Sustainable Development Indicators:
You can help contribute to zero landfill
Click the links below to find out more:
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