INTRODUCTIONEvery nation, every country, and every individual has every future to prepare.
Though present situations are difficult for challenging opportunities, the significance of it lies on the maintenance of the effort and the progression of it towards a sustainable and successful development.The widening destruction of mother earth has brought many to red alert. Thus, concerned agencies, individuals, government and private offices devised different platforms to counterfeit the continuing global problems regarding the environment.Landfills, which are the most common method of organised waste disposal and had remained in many places around the world, had undergone a protracted drafting phase because of significant differences in landfilling practice across Europe.
However, differences in technical standards and operating practices between member states have led to numerous incidents of gross land and water pollution. In response, the European Commission has introduced a number of measures to regulate landfill disposal and to establish a common framework that promotes waste prevention, minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery as alternatives to landfill disposal. In the UK, the Landfill Directive was brought into force on June 15, 2002 as the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, and since then it has been introduced bit-by-bit to give UK industry time to adopt.Although the Directive will prove far-reaching for many Member States, many of its provisions are already in place in the UK as a consequence of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and its daughter regulations.
Particularly the Special Waste Regulations 1996, the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, the Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 and the Controlled Waste Regulations 1992. Taken together, these encompass the key requirements under the landfill Directive for permitting, operational monitoring and aftercare following closure. The Special Waste Regulations embody the Hazardous Waste Directive and its principles.The Directive’s overall aim is “to prevent or reduce as far as possible negative effects on the environment, in particular the pollution of surface water, groundwater, soil and air, and on the global environment, including the greenhouse effect, as well as any resulting risk to human health, from the landfilling of waste, during the whole life-cycle of the landfill”.
In relation to this, the potential of the UK to meet the challenges of the Landfill Directive’s requirements had change the landfilling practices in the UK in recent yearsLANDFILL in the UKTraditionally, the UK has been heavily reliant on landfill: of a total of 28.2 million tonnes of municipal waste produced in 2000/01, 79% – about 23 million tonnes – was landfilled. Just 12% was recycled or composted and 8% was incinerated with energy recovery. The waste produced is growing by about 3% every year: this is more than the growth in GDP (2-2.
5%) and one of the fastest European growth rates for waste. The Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC), which was adopted by the European Union in 1999, is beginning to drastically change the way the UK handles waste.The LANDFILL DIRECTIVE and the UKFor the UK, which currently landfills around 85% of its wastes, the Landfill Directive focuses on reducing the impact of municipal waste because of its dependency on landfill. It had been allowed an extra four years to meet European targets, leading to the following goals based on the weight of biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) landfilled in 1995: Reduce BMW landfilled to 75% of 1995 level by 2010; Reduce BMW landfilled to 50% of 1995 level by 2013; Reduce BMW landfilled to 35% of 1995 level by 2020.
The Directive sets progressive targets for Member States to reduce the amount of their municipal biodegradable waste sent to landfill. Biodegradable waste was focused upon because it is the biodegradable element of waste which breaks down to produce methane. The targets are set for an important waste stream – biodegradable municipal waste. The Directive requires that the strategy for achieving the targets must also address the need to reduce all biodegradable waste going to landfill.
For these reasons, it means that the UK will have to take action on two levels: (1) Limit the use of landfill to ensure that no more than the allowed amount of biodegradable municipal waste is landfilled by the target dates; and (2) Build up alternatives to landfill to deal with the diverted waste, encourage the diversion of waste away from landfill towards these alternatives, and encourage initiatives which minimise the amount of biodegradable municipal waste produced.The first action is the subject of the consultation document Limiting Landfill: A Consultation paper on limiting landfill to meet the EC Landfill Directive’s targets for the landfill of biodegradable municipal waste. The targets in the Directive are legally binding on the UK and must be met. The Government considers that the scale of the change needed to meet the targets, and the relatively short timetable for bringing about this change, mean that a statutory instrument to limit the use of landfill for biodegradable municipal waste is essential.
The second action is dealt with in the draft waste strategy for England and Wales, a way with waste. The draft strategy has a strong presumption against landfill, and sets out goals for the sustainable management of municipal waste: recycling and composting 30% of household waste by 2010, and recovering 45% of municipal waste by the same date. The draft strategy also states that, by 2015, the Government expects a recovery value from two thirds of household waste, and that at least half of that will need to be through recycling or composting. It also reiterates the Government’s support for the principle of Best Practicable Environmental Option, and the waste hierarchy, within which recycling and composting should be considered before recovery of energy from waste.
Failure to meet the targets in the EC Landfill Directive would mean that the UK could face a non-compliance fine of up to £500,000 per day after the first target date in 2010. This fine is designed to be sufficiently strident to convince member states that investing in different waste strategies is a more acceptable alternative than being forced to pay the fine. Missed targets will also lead to greater green house gas emissions and hence potentially greater impacts on global warming.LANDFILL IMPLEMENTATION in the UKThe aim of the Directive is “by way of stringent operational and technical requirements on the waste and landfills, to provide for measures, procedures and guidance.
Central to the Directive is the requirement (Article 5) that all Member States shall introduce measures to reduce the quantities of biodegradable material going to landfill, to 35% of 1995 levels by 2016. Up to 4 years’ derogation from this is possible for countries currently landfilling ;80% of wastes, for which the UK is making use of this derogation.Implications. Major implications relate to what wastes may or may not be disposed of to landfill, and the implications for testing or pretreatment.
The present view is that: (1) The current practice of co-disposal of hazardous wastes with municipal wastes will cease. In future, all hazardous waste will go a designated hazardous waste landfill; (2) Co-disposal of non-hazardous wastes with municipal solid waste (MSW) will still be permitted; (3) Prohibition of several waste types, eg. liquid waste, will impact on disposal options currently available; (4) The biodegradable content of new landfills will drastically reduce. This will require major changes in the minimisation, segregation, and treatment/collection of the biodegradable content of current domestic and commercial wastes.
This will impact strongly on the waste management industry; (5) The requirements for good waste characterisation will have cost and practical implications. In particular, leaching tests are likely to be needed for wastes which may be classed as inert or non-hazardous, if they have not already been assigned to a national or EU list of such wastes.In view of the on-going consultation process, it is inappropriate to speculate too far in terms of the detailed implications. However, the trends that will occur as a result of the Directive, will be: less biodegradable waste going to landfill; more restricted options, and probably cost, for disposal of more hazardous wastes; pressure to use less hazardous raw materials, where possible; and more emphasis on minimising wastes at source, segregating necessary waste streams, and use of recycle/re-use/energy recovery options, ie much greater emphasis on use of the Hierarchy of Waste Management Options first promoted under IPC.
PROGRESSION of the LANDFILL DIRECTIVE in the UKLandfill in the UK is currently recognised as the Best Practicable Environmental Option (BPEO) for the disposal of certain waste types. In order to apply the principles of the EC 5th Programme of Policy ; Action in relation to the environment and sustainable development the Government has prepared a waste strategy policy. This is to promote landfill practices which will achieve stabilisation of landfill sites within one generation. It is to be implemented through guidance set out in a revised series of waste management papers on landfill.
In addition, the UK and many other countries are parties to the 1992 agreement on sustainable development at the Earth Summit. In the field of waste management, the strategy requires that the present generation should deal with the waste it produces and not leave problems to be dealt with by future generations.Sorting of Municipal Waste for Recovery and Recycling. This position on sorting links to treatment requirements for municipal waste which will affect local authorities.
While the released draft guidance from the Environment Agency, entitled “Requirement for waste destined for disposal in Landfill”, is not being seen as new guidance for local authorities, the wording of the agency document is important to both the waste management industry and local authorities as they adapt to the introduction of Landfill Directive regulations. In effect, it means that councils who have municipal waste strategies in place to achieve the diversion of waste from landfill will meet landfill treatment requirements through the sorting and recovery of material.Variable Waste Charging (“pay as you throw” or “weigh and pay”. The scheme would see householders charged based on the amount of non-recyclable waste they put out for collection.
It is being prompted by a “growing sense of urgency and concern” among officers about landfill targets despite some districts and counties now recycling more than half of their waste.Landfill Tax. The Landfill Tax is a tax on every tonne of waste sent to landfill in the UK. It is seen as one of the most important measures encouraging the recycling.
According to the Treasury in the Budget report, the increase in the standard rate of Landfill Tax had contributed to the overall quantities of waste recorded at registered landfill sites falling 25% between 1997/98 and 2005/06, from around 96 million tonnes to 72 million tonnes. As a result, the UK is on track to meet its 2010 targets under the Landfill Directive although subsequent targets in 2013 and 2020 remain challenging.UK and NORTHERN IRELANDHistorically, waste management has been rather an ad hoc industry, with little or no formal strategic development. However, England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland have launched waste strategies, principally to implement the waste directives emanating from Europe.
The transposition of the directive in Northern Ireland is dependent on other enabling legislation, namely the Waste Management Licensing Regulations. Northern Ireland will be implementing national regulations to ensure that the targets set out in the Regulations can be achieved.As in Ireland and other EU countries, Northern Ireland is adopting increasingly stringent environmental standards that will require significant new spending on environmental infrastructure, including drinking water supplies, waste water treatment facilities, solid waste disposal facilities, coastal protection works and environmental research and development.However, during 2012 thermal treatment is planned to be introduced in Northern Ireland.
This will deliver the maximum amount for the second target year. The Department of the Environment in Northern Ireland wants the maximum amounts for the sixth and seventh years to be specified to take account of this planned infrastructural development. Consequently, the Regulations specify maximum amounts for these years of 469,937 and 465,950 tonnes respectively; these amounts should enable Northern Ireland’s district councils to comply with their requirements without having to divert investment funding from the planned thermal treatment facility.The landfill allowances scheme in Northern Ireland was launched on 1 April 2005.
District Councils will have to make steeper annual reductions to meet the landfill targets, thereby increasing the risk of Northern Ireland failing to meet its targets. Subsequently the UK would face infraction procedures which incur fines and high administration costs, as well as fines imposed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) at a maximum of £500,000 a day for not meeting the Directive target on the second target year date of 16 July 2013. As the country responsible for the breach of the UK targets, these fines would be passed down to Northern Ireland.Reducing landfill allowances more quickly than absolutely required by the Landfill Directive would put Northern Ireland’s district councils at risk of financial penalties, despite the fact that their waste management plans have and are being developed to deliver those targets.
This situation would exacerbate the difficulty of diverting BMW from landfill rather than facilitate this diversion. District councils might be forced to redirect funds from the investments in facilities to pay penalties under the Northern Ireland landfill allowances scheme. This could, in fact, delay the environmental benefits of increased diversion beyond 2013 and put the UK at risk of breaching the Directive and facing EC infraction fines.Limiting the amount of waste sent to landfill will have significant environmental benefits for Northern Ireland – to move towards a more sustainable management of its waste.
CONCLUSIONAlthough it has been appreciated by all that strategic change takes time to implement, the requirements to move away from landfill had been well known within the waste management industry and amongst waste producers. Government has made clear on its objectives by implementing targets for recycling and re-use of waste both for local authorities and for commercial and industrial waste producers. Though the Landfill Directive has changed drastically the way the UK handles waste, it did its best to drive the process forward. It has led and funded much of the modelling work that is informing the criteria, and hosted meetings.
The legislative focus is increasingly targeting such areas as recycling (particularly in relation to household waste), high-technology incineration and landfill management, and producer responsibility.As landfill is the predominant method of disposal in the UK, the changes required by the directive certainly are going to be challenging for waste producers and waste managers alike. Producer responsibility, which has achieved limited success in the UK with the implementation of the European Community Packaging Directive, is set to increase with the implementation of a number of policy initiatives and directives.Changes to the Special Waste Regulations, increased emission standards for incineration, future targets for battery recycling, and potential policy on the use of polyvinyl chloride will also require dynamic changes in the way that waste is currently managed.
Recognising the challenges these legislative pressures pose to current management practices, the Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs held the first national Waste Summit in November 2001, providing key stakeholders in waste management with the opportunity to identify barriers and potential solutions to achieving more sustainable management of waste. Despite the diversity of stakeholders present, a consensus was reached in terms of the main barriers to progress.Following the Waste Summit, the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit engaged in a review of waste management, and its report Waste Not, Want Not recently has been published. With waste reduction and recycling at its core, identifying major issues and impediments to meeting national and international obligations, the review has proposed the development of appropriate economic and regulatory frameworks essential for success.
Specific measures include significantly increasing the level of landfill tax, greater regulatory and innovative freedom for local authorities, more voluntary agreements with manufacturers, and financial incentives for green goods.The recommendations in the report are extensive; however, their successful implementation relies on continued political will and adequate resourcing. Funding, fundamental to the delivery of more sustainable management of waste, has yet to be adequately addressed. Householders currently have little understanding of the costs, and the present charges are insufficient to meet the needs for infrastructure development.
The landfill tax is criticised for having minimal impact on disposal costs as a result of the taxation level being set too low. However, the prebudget report for 2003 announced a rise of just £3.00 per tonne per year from 2005, with a long-term aim of the tax level reaching £35.00 per tonne.
Long-term fiscal instruments are not necessarily in tune with short-term targets and will have little impact on bringing about the step changes necessary to progress waste management in the UK.The recommendations in the report are being considered by a ministerial group, set up to develop the public expenditure programme, and necessary framework and final decisions were taken by April 2003. There is still everything to play for in terms of strategy development, and the waste management industry as a whole has to be ready to incorporate the changes and ensure that infrastructure is developed in a timely fashion in line with regulation and guidance. This requires all players to work together and to capitalise on the opportunities, but it is essential that policy-makers provide the lead.
Challenging opportunities are still ahead and UK do have the capability and the expertise which therefore could meet the challenging requirements of the Landfill Directive.;REFERENCES“EPA and Massachusetts Target European Nations for Environmental Technology Exports”. EPA New England Press Release. Updated 1 March 2006.
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uk/environment/waste/topics/landfill-dir/pdf/landfilldir.pdf“Landfill”. Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 28 February 2007 http://en.
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aspx?o=Ref033“Landfill Directive”. Letsrecycle.com2007. Accessed 28 February 2007 http://www.
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