Under the EU directive, the UK must begin to weigh up the options so that we can dramatically reduce the amount of biodegradable waste sent to landfill each year
by Charlie Kirk
17 November 2006
Shockingly, the UK now produces around 330 million tonnes of waste per annum, according to Environment Agency figures. As this figure is increasing at a rate of 3 per cent each year, the need to reduce its impact on the environment is of increasing importance. Waste cannot be eliminated but we can minimise the impact on the environment as much as possible by maximising the amount that is composted.
It is essential that waste producers choose to work with specialist companies which dispose of waste in the most effective way and where possible compost as much of the biodegradable waste that is collected from customers across the country.
Historically landfill has been a cheap option for waste disposal in the UK but the increase in landfill tax over the last few years has encouraged companies to reassess their waste management options in order to help the environment and reduce costs.
Landfill tax now has to be paid on top of normal landfill fees by businesses and local authorities that want to dispose of waste using a landfill site. It is designed to encourage businesses to produce less waste and to use alternative forms of waste management. Composting tends to be the most cost effective and feasible option to recycle inert waste as it helps the environment in a positive way.
Organic wastes which are suitable for composting are brought to the composting area where they are shredded up into a uniform size and laid out in trapezoidal-shaped rows called 'windrows'. These windrows are regularly monitored for moisture and temperature and are mixed or turned on a weekly basis to ensure that all the material is evenly composted. The Environment Agency is keen to make companies aware of the services provided by a rich and diverse natural environment. This knowledge can actually help businesses to reap the benefits of sustainable business practices, improve competitiveness and value to shareholders, and secure trust in the wider community.
The public is increasingly likely to use its purchasing and investment powers, and its opinion, to influence environmental factors and as more people become informed, there is likely to be greater general approval in the regulatory processes in place and public confidence in it. Therefore there are benefits of being ahead of the game and looking to improve a company's environmental status now.
After all if more companies don't act now to reduce the amount of waste they produce, the quantity of municipal waste produced in the UK is likely to continue to increase at around three per cent per annum. This will mean it will have doubled from 1995 by 2020.
There are currently two rates of landfill tax - the lower rate of £2 per tonne for inactive waste such as rocks and soil and the standard rate of £21 per tonne. However, the government has stated that the standard rate of tax will increase by £3 per tonne in subsequent years to a rate of £35 per tonne by 2010 so it makes sense to act now.
Further, as almost half (48 per cent) of the UK's waste is currently sent to landfill the importance of composting is ever increasing and we would encourage other companies to do as we have done and help lower the UK's landfill figures over the next few years in accordance with EU targets.
With its heavy legislative burden and an increasing public awareness of the potential impact of waste on the environment, it is vital that companies demonstrate its commitment.
Composting is a great option for the deposal of inert waste as it saves energy, reduces air and water pollution, provides a way of reducing the volume of organic waste that needs to be disposed of and coverts organic water matter into a product that is useful for garden landscaping, agriculture and landfill restoration. The consumer is becoming more and more aware of the importance of preserving the environment and this is starting to affect the product and service choices they make.
Therefore there are competitive benefits of being ahead of the game and looking to improve a company's environmental status now. It is important for FMs to select a specialist waste company who ensures as much biodegradable waste is sent for composting and not landfill. This will save companies money and is a better option for the environment.
Charlie Kirk is managing director of Jet Aire Drain Care
FM QUICK FACTS
Landfill tax is paid on top of normal landfill fees by businesses and local authorities who want to dispose of waste using a landfill site
There are currently two rates - the lower rate of £2 per tonne for inactive waste and the standard rate of £21 per tonne - but these figures will increase
By 2010 the standard rate will be £35 per tonne, the government says