The United Kingdom, along with the rest of the European Union, have been making a gradual shift towards incineration plants in lieu of dumping their waste in landfills. Over the past year, landfill sites in Great Britain received less waste than ever before with estimates placing the total below 30 million tons. This declining disposal rate is partially attributed to the growing use of waste incinerators which burn up municipal solid waste to generate heat and electricity.
However, there are other factors at work in the British waste management industry. The state imposed Landfill Tax has sharply increased, driving more consumers away from the landfill and towards their local recycling center. Meanwhile, landfills across the country are reaching the end of their operational lifespans with very few applying for extensions.
There have also been significant investments made in alternative waste disposal systems. Over half of planned waste infrastructure projects in the country were related to new material recovery facilities, including recycling facilities. An additional 41% of planned projects included composting facilities, anaerobic digesters, household waste recycling centers, and energy to waste plants.
An increase in landfill diversion rates is generally good news, but in the case of the UK a significant portion of the diverted waste ends up in an incinerator. Environmental groups have warned that the extended use of incinerators will reduce the recycling rate, since incinerators typically burn municipal solid waste which consists of both recyclables and landfill materials.