With a new waste strategy due next year and the Clean Growth Strategy setting landfill avoidable plans for 2050, Peter Hayes, Business Development Executive for waste management specialist CDEnviro, gives his thoughts on how realistic some of the options are.
The recent government announcement on zero avoidable waste to landfill by 2050 in its Clean Growth Strategy (as reported by letsrecycle.com) provides a welcome focus and clear target for dealing with the UK’s waste. We look forward to seeing how this will be further developed in the new Resources and Waste Strategy, due next year.
The popularity of the circular economy has been growing in recent years. These new strategies should provide added impetus to those looking to recover resources for reuse and eradicate unnecessary landfill, as well as encouraging more people to get involved.
The Clean Growth Strategy outlines how the move towards zero waste will need to involve “eliminating all waste where it is technologically, environmentally and economically practicable to do so and working to support innovation in new materials, products and processes that extend the range of materials covered by this categorisation.”
This very much aligns with our philosophy that zero waste is an achievable target and something that as a company, as an industry and as individuals we have a responsibility to achieve. To meet the target we will need to continue to design and manufacture new, original products and processes for a variety of waste streams from a range of different sources.
The systems to meet many of the Strategy targets are already in place. Modern screening, sorting and processing systems have vastly expanded our capacity to recover resources and, along with the increase in taxes, this means that landfill is less attractive than ever.
Despite this, every year in the UK, 10 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill, so the Strategy understandably focuses on food waste as an urgent priority. It states: “Action [is needed] to divert more food waste than ever before from landfill, to support resource productivity and avoid further emissions by preventing food waste in the first place.”
The Strategy should encourage investment in the use of waste classification equipment within the food industry, for example. This can significantly reduce the volume of food waste sent to landfill and also allow for the production of an improved nutrient rich fertiliser product with application in the agricultural market; the circular economy in practice.
When used, this technology introduces significant efficiency improvements in an industry where spiral screens are commonly used and experience frequent blockages. These cause significant interruptions to production, impacting on economic success, as well as sustainability.
Driving economic growth
Alongside the environmental benefits of reducing landfill, the opportunity that exists from the successful exploitation of what is now considered ‘waste’ is huge and our industry can play a significant role in driving economic growth.
The Strategy will not solve all our environmental issues in one go, but it is a welcome statement of intent and provides some long-term stability for those working in the waste management industry.
So with ‘waste’ being increasingly considered as a resource, it’s important to remember that when it comes to diverting waste from landfill we have zero to lose, but more importantly, a lot to gain.