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Waste diversion on track but set to get tougher

England is making good progress towards meeting its first tough EU targets to send less biodegradable household waste to landfill, according to a report on the second year of the Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS) published today (Wednesday) by the Environment Agency.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive at the Environment Agency, said: “Today's report shows that all 121 local authorities in England landfilled within their allowance and none are liable to penalties.

“In fact England was 20% under its 2006/7 allowance and is around 350,000 tonnes away from meeting the first EU target for 2010. This continues the downward trend in the amount of biodegradable municipal waste we are sending to landfill and this is thanks to a lot of hard work by Local Authority staff.”

Under LATS each waste disposal authority has been allocated annual allowances on how much biodegradable municipal waste they can dispose of in landfill sites based on the amount of waste they handled in 2001/2. Each allowance represents one tonne of biodegradable municipal waste that can be sent to landfill.

They then have the choice of meeting their allocation of allowances using the flexible options of the scheme. They can divert waste from landfill – for example by recycling, re-use or composting, by using their allowances, by borrowing from their future allocations, buying allowances from other authorities or any combination of these.

The total number of allowances available nationally to England is limited according to national targets set in the Landfill Directive. The scheme 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, the UK must reduce the amount of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) going to landfill to 75% of that produced in 1995 by 2010, then to 50% by 2013 and finally 35% by 2020. LATS was set up to make sure that England is ready to meet its share of the targets.

Barbara Young continued: “England has made a great start towards meeting the first landfill directive target in 2010 but the UK targets remain challenging and local authorities must continue the good work.”

Defra Environment Minister, Joan Ruddock, added: “It is welcome news that LATS is working and that the amount of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill has reduced. This is the second year of the scheme and I am pleased to see that local authorities have taken their responsibilities seriously and are on track to meet the 2010 target. However, there is no room for complacency and I will continue to work with local authorities to deliver further improvements.”

The LATS report compiles data submitted by local authorities in England to the Environment Agency. Findings from the report include:

England's total allowance allocation for 2006/7 was set at 14.5 million tonnes. The actual amount of Biodegradable Municipal Waste (BMW) sent to landfill in 2006/7 was 11.55 million tonnes – down by over 800,000 tonnes on the amount of BMW sent to landfill in 2005/6.

All 121 authorities in England were within their allocated annual allowances, with 10 authorities using the flexibility of trading. One of these authorities also borrowed from 2007/8.

A copy of the Landfill Allowances and Trading Scheme (LATS) 2006/7 report is available online at www.environment-agency.gov.uk

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