of landfill scheme to meet waste diversion targets.
The unique flexibility of England's Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS) will help local authorities to meet EU landfill targets, despite the sudden fall in demand on the recyclable materials market.
A new Environment Agency report released today shows three years into the LATS scheme, England is already within the 2010 target of a 25% reduction (against 1995 levels) in biodegradable household waste going to landfill.
During 2007/08, local authorities had a target to landfill no more than 13.6 million tonnes of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW). In fact they sent only 10.6M tonnes to landfill and all 121 local authorities in England stayed within their landfill allowance for 2007/08, with none liable for penalties.
Under LATS each waste disposal authority has been allocated annual allowances on how much BMW they can dispose of in landfill sites based on the amount of waste they handled in 2001/2. Each allowance represents one tonne of BMW that can be sent to landfill.
Dr Paul Leinster, Chief Executive at the Environment Agency, said that despite the credit crunch impact on the materials market, LATS allows local authorities the flexibility to buy, borrow and sell allowances – as market demand fluctuates.
“We recognise that exceptional market conditions could make it more challenging for local authorities to meet recycling targets. However, the LATS scheme is unique in Europe in giving local authorities flexibility in how they meet their landfill diversion targets by buying, borrowing and selling allowances as market demand fluctuates.
“England has tough but important targets to reduce the amount of household waste rotting in our landfills, which contributes to climate change by releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.
“Methane accounts for 7.5% (CO2 equivalent) of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and biodegradable waste in landfills such as paper, cardboard, food and garden waste, accounts for more than 40% of all methane emissions, so we need to keep up efforts to reduce its impact.
“Thanks to the hard work of local authority staff, the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill is significantly lower, but the current market situation is a reminder that there can be no room for complacency.
“The targets to reduce biodegradable waste going to landfill in 2013 and 2020 will become progressively harder to achieve. Local authorities collectively will need to step up their diversion of biodegradable waste to meet all the targets, and should utilise all the flexibility within the LATS system.”
LATS was introduced in 2005 to ensure England meets its share of the UK's tough EU target on
reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill. Under the EU Landfill Directive, by 2010 the UK must reduce the amount of BMW going to landfill to 25% less than 1995 levels, then 50% less by 2013 and finally 65% less by 2020.
Local authorities can meet allowance targets using a range of flexible options within the scheme, including:
sending waste to landfill, diverting waste from landfill by recycling, re-use, composting, or using new technologies, borrowing from their future landfill allocations, buying allowances from other authorities, or any combination of these.
Options for local authorities to divert BMW from landfill include anaerobic digestion, where the methane generated can be used to create electricity; recycling, reuse, composting and mechanical & biological treatment.
Environment Minister Jane Kennedy said: “Local authorities are to be congratulated on the way they are tackling the diversion of waste from landfill. The Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme gives them the right flexibility to meet their allowances year on year. This flexibility is enabling local authorities to achieve the major goal of reducing the waste ending up in landfill.”
The LATS report compiles data submitted by local authorities in England to the Environment Agency. Findings from the 2007/08 report include:
· London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Hampshire County Council illustrate the flexibility of the LATS scheme. Although Tower Hamlets landfilled 26.2 % more than their BMW allowances in 2007/08, they were able to buy allowances to stay within their allocation. Hampshire CC meanwhile had the greatest amount of surplus allowances and was able to sell 22.8 % of its allowances to three other authorities. The LATS scheme is unique in Europe in giving Local Authorities this flexibility in how they meet their landfill diversion allowances.
· Twelve authorities landfilled more in 2007/08 than their original 2007/08 allocations, set in 2004 (a total of 45,735 tonnes more). Eleven used allowances banked from previous scheme years, five bought additional allowances from other authorities and one brought forward allowances from its own 2008/09 allocation
A copy of the Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS) 2007/08 report is available online at LATS Report 2007/08 or from the Environment Agency's National Customer Contact Centre: 08708 506 506.