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Welsh Local Authorities hit landfill targets a year early
The Landfill Allowances Scheme (LAS) limits the amount of biodegradable municipal waste (such as paper, cardboard and kitchen scraps) that councils are allowed to send to landfill. It aims to encourage the recycling, composting and treatment of this waste.
Welcoming the results published by Environment Agency Wales, Environment Minister Jane Davidson said:
“These new figures are great news and show how councils are making significant progress in changing the way we deal with our waste. Every Welsh local authority has now met this first EU target a year early. This is an excellent achievement. I want to congratulate all of them for all their hard work and commitment.
“The idea that we can simply bury waste in the ground and leave it rot is from another era. To protect this beautiful country for future generations we need to recycle as much as possible. Reducing landfill is a key part in the battle to protect our environment. Landfill uses up our precious land and the rotting waste beneath the soil can damages our environment by producing harmful carbon emissions. However, more recycling also represents an opportunity to generate renewable energy through the use of anaerobic digestion of this food waste.
“I now want to build on this progress. The increase in the recycling of separately collected food waste will be vital for Local Authorities to meet the next EU target set for 2013. Councils who exceed their targets face significant fines, which would not be good for the taxpayer.”
Over the past two years the Welsh Assembly Government has provided Local Authorities with an extra £24 million to prepare for the collection and treatment of household waste. Eighteen of the twenty two councils in Wales are now operating food waste collection services.
2010 is the first Landfill Directive Target year when Wales will need to report to the EU on its LAS performance. Any Local Authorities who exceed their targets face severe financial penalties.
Today’s figures come from a report produced by Environment Agency Wales in its role as monitoring authority for the Landfill Allowances Scheme.
Chris Mills, Director of Environment Agency Wales, said:
“This is a great achievement made possible by the efforts of Local Authorities and communities in Wales. The creation of better facilities and people making a real effort to separate their waste is paying dividends.
"Landfills are the most unsustainable way of dealing with the waste we produce every day. Biodegradable waste in landfills such as paper, cardboard, food and garden waste, accounts for around 30% of all methane emissions in Wales, which is a major contributor to climate change.
“Cutting down on the waste we produce, as well as recycling and composting as much as possible, is far better for our environment. With landfill tax set to rise year on year, it will become an even more expensive way of getting rid of our waste, as well as the least environmentally friendly.”
All Local Authorities in Wales are now currently within their 2009/10 allowances, compared to 2007/8 where only 11 Local Authorities were within their 2009/10 targets. Wales is 16% (110,297 tonnes) below the first Landfill Directive target year allowance in 2009/10.
The report highlights how councils in Wales sent 599,703 tonnes of biodegradable waste to landfill in 2008/9, compared to the landfill allowance allocation of 788,000 tonnes, showing a reduction of 154,879 tonnes of biodegradable waste landfilled across Wales over the past 2 years.
View the report on the Environment Agency website.