01 Nov What Are The Alternatives to Landfill?
Waste management experts from Indaver explain exactly what the process is when disposing of the bin bags left outside the front of our houses.
From plastic bags to plastic straws, the litter that destroys the environment is becoming a big concern for society and the damage we are causing to the planet; wildlife and sea life is now headline news on a daily basis. So the question is, what actually happens to our waste and what are the best options for the environment?
When it comes to waste management, similar to everything else in the world, there is a hierarchy. The EU waste hierarchy, as set out in the Waste Framework Directive, puts prevention; reuse and recycling efforts first, followed by recovery and disposal.
Landfill is the least desirable option due to the high environmental impacts i.e. potential groundwater pollution, methane emissions, and aftercare periods of hundreds of years.
The waste to energy(WtE) process is heavily criticised for ‘competing’ with recycling and therefore being a more damaging alternative. However, when making decisions regarding whether to choose landfill or WtE plants there is absolutely no comparison.
Waste-to-Energy actually supports high-quality recycling efforts. For example countries with very high recycling rates – such as Austria; Belgium; Germany and the Netherlands also have high rates of Waste-to-Energy as a final destination for non-recyclables, and thereby have reduced landfill to almost zero.
Landfills produce methane and by diverting waste from landfill, the negative effect of the production of methane is avoided. Reducing the export of residual waste will also reduce carbon emissions from the transport of waste.
The disposal of community waste to landfill must be seen as a last resort. Extracting energy from what is left after reusing or recycling should only be seen as a positive.
Hear what else Indaver had to say on the topic over on Open Access Government.