Welsh councils hit landfill targets a year early
The Environment Minister has congratulated Wales' local authorities for collectively achieving their 2013 target to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill a year early.
The Landfill Allowances Scheme helps Wales to meet its obligations under the EU Landfill Directive. The Directive aims to reduce the pollution potential from waste by capping the amount of biodegradable municipal waste Welsh councils can send to landfill at 50 per cent of the amount produced in 1995 by 2013, and 35 per cent of the 1995 figure by 2020. Exceeding these allowances can lead to severe financial penalties.
The report, released by Environment Agency Wales, shows that between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 all Wales' twenty-two local authorities achieved their individual 2011-12 targets and also collectively hit the 2013 target a year early.
Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 local authorities sent 389,738 tonnes of biodegradable municipal waste to landfill, which was twenty nine per cent less than the allowance for 2011/12. Collectively, Welsh councils also cut the amount of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill by 560,262 tonnes against the 1995 figure, resulting in a reduction of fifty nine per cent.
As well as saving councils money, reducing the amount of biodegradable waste going to landfill also cuts greenhouse gas emissions and helps reduce climate change. Methane produced by the breakdown of biodegradable waste - such as paper, cardboard and kitchen scraps - in a landfill can have 25 times more impact on global temperature than carbon dioxide.
As a result, food waste is a key priority in Wales' waste strategy Towards Zero Waste and every council in Wales runs a kerbside food waste collection service, which covers nine out of ten households. The food waste collected is then composted or treated using anaerobic digestion to create biogas, which can be used as a fuel.
Welcoming the report, Environment Minister, John Griffiths, said: "This report is great news. I congratulate Welsh councils and residents for all their hard work and efforts to separate out the valuable recyclable materials and substantially reduce the amount of biodegradable waste disposed of in landfill.
"The figures show that councils are making significant progress in changing the way we deal with our waste. Burying all our rubbish in the ground and leaving it to rot is no longer an option - it uses up our precious land and damages our environment - and so it is essential that we to build on this progress and continue to meet the challenging EU targets right up to 2020. "
Chris Mills, Director Environment Agency Wales, said: "Effort by Local Authorities and the public has reduced the amount of biodegradable waste, like paper, food and card that is sent to landfill by more than half since 2006. This is a fantastic achievement and will help to cut the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by landfill sites.
"This also makes better sense for the public purse as it is becoming more and more expensive to send waste to landfill. This will become even more important in the future to avoid paying penalties associated with tougher targets.
"It is more sustainable for our environment and for our economy to reuse and recycle our resources rather than simply throwing them away. "
Councillor Neil Rogers (Wrexham), WLGA spokesperson for Environment, Sustainable Development and Waste added: "Reaching the landfill allowance targets for 2011/12, with over 160,000 tonnes left to spare, is a great achievement for Welsh councils and the communities that they serve. Local recycling schemes are only effective if people take part in them, and achieving landfill targets a year early offers a clear indication of how people in Wales continue to adapt to new habits, evolving collection services and the use of more modern waste treatment technologies.
"With councils facing the threat of substantial fines we hope people will continue to make the most of their local recycling facilities, as it is only through their participation that local councils will be able to meet the increasingly ambitious waste targets of the future. "
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