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Landfill Tax – is it Subsidising the Waste Industry?

Statistics show that over 52 million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill within the UK alone. To put that into some form of perspective, that is approximately 11 million large elephants worth of waste which is being disposed of by Brits in the least sustainable way possible.

Of course, some waste which isn’t recyclable or reusable has to be sent to landfill. However, this is nowhere near as much as we as a nation are currently disposing of. Such a high disposal of waste to landfill has damaging impacts upon our ecosystem, nationally and internationally, short term and long term. Some of this landfill will eventually rot, letting off harmful gases, whilst some will never degrade.

The damaging impact that this is having on our planet has been well publicised as being unsustainable. This growing understanding is why more and more individuals and businesses are now operating with sustainable waste removal in mind. In an attempt to improve this situation further, the British government have been upping landfill tax for many years. 

What is landfill tax? Why is it in place? Is it subsidising the waste industry? These are some of the questions that our waste removal experts at Total Waste Services are going to be answering in this blog. 

Landfill Tax Explained

Landfill tax is applied by national governments to increase the cost of landfill and (theoretically) minimise its use. Landfill Tax was initially introduced in the United Kingdom in 1996 by John Gummer, the Conservative Secretary of State for the Environment. Landfill tax comes in addition to the overall cost waste clearance through landfill and a proportion of the gate fee, so it can result in a hefty fee.

There are various reasons why tax is enforced as a means of discouraging landfill, including:

  • Irreversible damage to the planet caused, such as climate change caused by gases being given off from biodegradable waste
  • The loss of resources
  • Labour costs involved
  • Space constraints placed on areas deemed suitable for landfill suites 
  • The permanent loss of recyclable materials which are unnecessarily put through landfill (e.g. glass, paper, cardboard, wood, metal, plastic, soil, concrete and brick)

How Much Does Landfill Tax Cost?

There are multiple factors which will influence how much tax is levied against an individual when disposing of waste through landfill. The weight of the material in tonnes is the primary factor, however, whether the waste is active or inactive also has an effect on the final tax fee:

  • Inactive waste: refers to the majority of materials you would find in a building’s fabric, as well as those excavated for earth foundations from the ground. The majority of forms of brick, glass, concrete, gravel, soil and glass would be classified as inactive.
  • Active waste: covers all other forms of waste and can generally be differentiated through the idea of “man made” vs “non man made”. Examples of this form of waste would include plastics, wood, ductwork and piping. It is far more expensive to send active waste to landfill than inactive waste. 

The cost of British landfill tax has increased multiple times within the last two decades. As of April 2019, British landfill landfill tax rates have been:

  • Standard rate for active waste: £91.35 per tonne
  • Lower rate for inactive waste: £2.90 per tonne

This is a notable increase from the previous legislation set in 2015, in which the Standard rate for active waste was £82.60 per tonne (£8.75 less) and the lower rate for inactive waste was £2.60 per tonne (£0.30) increase. Going back further, to the policies set in 2013-14, the standard rate for active waste was £80 per tonne (£11.35 less) and the lower rate for inactive waste was £2.50 per tonne (£0.40 less)

When you take into consideration what we learned earlier, that’s over 52 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill by Brits annually. This is a huge amount of money spent on waste removal. However, what effect, if any, has this had on the waste management industry?

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth is: Brits Finally Recycling

When looking at the latest government data available, the impact of raising landfill tax seems to be making a notable impact. Overall, the recycling rate for households has increased across the UK, from 45.2% in 2016 to 45.7% in 2017 (0.5% improvement).

It has also been reported that 70.2% of waste was either recycled or recovered in the UK in 2017. Ultimately, this goes far beyond the European Union’s overall target to recycle or recover a minimum of 60% of waste products. Furthermore, the volume of plastic which was recycled, in opposed to being sent to landfill, is rising. From 2013 to 2017, the amount of plastic which was recycled within the UK has risen by 8% – from 38.2% to 46.2%.

This improvement in environmentally conscious waste disposal has no plans of slowing down, which is great news for the planet. The UK Government has set a target of recycling half of all 50% of household waste items by 2020 (regardless of the country’s likelihood to leave the European Union). 

What Does This Mean for the Waste Removal Industry?

As our investigation has shown, raising landfill taxes appears to be having an impact on Brit’s readiness to send items to landfill. However, if the items are not recyclable, then what is the next best alternative?

To finally answer the question set out in the title: Yes, the waste removal industry is being subsidised by landfill tax. This is because, for domestic individuals and commercial organisations who want to maintain an environmentally conscious approach, working with rubbish clearance specialists is the best solution available.

Working with an environmentally conscious waste disposal company is the perfect choice for those who have waste they need to get rid of but don’t want to contribute to further climate change. Total Waste Services operate skip hire, wait and load service and grab hire in the Liverpool and Manchester area. 

Disposing of waste through skip hire is a particularly environmentally conscious solution for both domestic and commercial customers. The thorough picking and sorting process that takes place with our skip waste means you can be confident that items found to be to a recyclable material will not be taken to landfill. 

Investing in Conscious Waste Disposal 

Total Waste Services are renowned for an eco-friendly approach and are the best option to ensure that your waste is handled in the best way possible. We make a conscious effort to ensure the minimum amount of items are sent to landfill and the maximum are recycled, helping our planet one step at a time.
If you want to dispose of your waste the right way then get in contact today. Our friendly team who are experts in waste clearance services would be happy to answer any questions you may have.