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Landfill in England to run out in seven years

England now has 6.8 years left of non-hazardous landfill life, based on 2016 inputs, according to the Environment Agency.

Newly published data for 2016 from permitted waste management operators in England shows a current overall picture of waste management activity in the country (see picture gallery).

It shows a steady increase in waste treatment capacity in England between 2009 and 2016, alongside a decrease in landfill capacity. 

England landfilled a total of 44.7 million tonnes in 2016 and managed a total of 203 million tonnes of waste. Last year there were 340 landfill sites accepting waste and 507 that were permitted, against 343 and 493 respectively the previous year.

On a regional basis, the east of England utilised the most landfill, at 10 million tonnes, while London used the least at 2.3 million tonnes. The south-east, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, had the most remaining landfill capacity in non-hazardous merchant sites at the end of 2016.

Also decreasing was the number of metal recycling sites holding permits and the number accepting scrap. These have decreased year-on-year since 2014. In 2016 there were 1,244 metal recycling sites accepting waste, 46 fewer than 2014, or a 3.5% decrease.

Analysis of treatment facilities showed that the north-west had the most biological treatment activity and London the least. The capital also had the least incineration capacity, while the south-east had the most.

In terms of incineration input, the majority of incineration capacity across the various regions was used for municipal and/or commercial and industrial waste, with the exception of the east Midlands and east of England, where co-incineration of hazardous waste and animal by-products led respectively.

The data follows the recent release of reports within the industry concerning whether the country faces a future waste treatment capacity shortfall for residual waste or overcapacity. Biffa has warned of a capacity gap, as has Suez, while consultancy Eunomia predicts an overcapacity of energy-from-waste plants.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Such an eye-opening article. We really need to take this landfill situation seriously.

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  • As a nation we generate vast amounts of waste . The focus should be on reducing waste and penalising companies that thrive on throw away articles. Incinerator companies say they offer a solution. They do not , to generate 1 kWh of incinerator electricity releases 1.5 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere. The average amount of CO2 generated per kWh of electricity in the U.K. Is currently less than 20% of this around 0.25 Kg . Incinerators will soon be taxed out of existence if the government is serious about fighting global warming.

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