Category Archives: Landfill
By Accounting for Energy – (1 min read)
The awards were held in conjunction with the ICAEW and Accounting for sustainability and in partnership with Deloitte, the Finance for the Future award recognises organisations that have developed new financial products or services that are aimed at driving sustainable outcomes.
Accounting for Energy received the Highly Commended status in the Building Sustainable Financial Products category and the judges noted that they identified and addressed a unique niche in the market, which is the information inbalance between landowners and renewable energy companies.
By Freccia Benn – (4 min read)
Since it was first introduced, the Landfill Tax Escalator has played a major role in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Twenty-three years later, the mood has shifted and governments are now considering a move that would have been unthinkable even 10 years ago – a ban on biodegradable waste sent to landfill.
Aside from the wider goal of keeping waste out of landfill, the ban is expected to contribute to the country’s strategy on carbon emissions. The Committee on Climate Change recently called for a ban on all biodegradable waste sent to landfill by 2025, if the UK is to reach its target of net zero emissions by 2050. Scotland has gone a step further, with legislation already in place for a ban in 2021.
Despite the many positive impacts that a ban would bring, Scotland is facing pressure to demonstrate that there is enough capacity in place to deal with the extra waste that will be diverted from landfills across the country. It is expected that quantities of that waste will be crossing the border for processing in England.
When it comes to landfill gas, the picture is complicated. Sites with gas extraction equipment tend to operate for long periods of time so, for example, the oldest known site opened for business in 1947 and began producing electricity in 1987. The site closed in 1990 but still produces electricity to this day.
It takes around three to six months before waste added to a landfill starts to break down to produce landfill gas. It will then continue to be productive for the next 20 years before the volume of gas starts to decline.
If the influx of material suddenly stalls, the expected renewable energy income will also come to a halt. For the companies that have installed high tech equipment based on a projection of a reasonable income, the prospect of a ban on biodegradable waste could be a daunting one.
The impact of the introduction of a ban might be felt within six months. Not only could it reduce the volume of landfill electricity produced each year; it might also limit the total number of years that the landfill site would continue to produce electricity.
To gain a clear picture, each site would need to be analysed individually. Although this may sound like a formidable task, well-managed sites should be checking outputs, projections and agreements on a regular basis. For land owners the benefits are clear – they need to ensure that they are receiving the correct level of royalties for hosting the equipment on their sites. However, with an impending ban, it is also important for landfill gas equipment operators to ensure that they are not expected to pay royalties on income that has been reduced as volumes of waste fall.
The outlook for the future is complex. Reducing biodegradable waste to landfill is an important step but it could be argued that, where landfill gas is in place, genuine value is being created.
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By Accounting for Energy– (3 min read)
This month, Alupro announced that in 2018, the recycling of aluminium cans hit 75 per cent – a three per cent rise on 2017 figures. In an environment where household recycling has reached a plateau, aluminium is a success story, and one which represents value across the supply chain. As well as helping to avoid unnecessary mining of Bauxite, last year, aluminium cans averaged £1,016 per tonne.
Ideally, successful recycling would always feed a genuine market and, as resources become more scarce, we are looking for new ways to make the most of our waste. One route which is being explored is the extraction of valuable resources from landfill and e-waste.
A UN report released earlier this year estimates the value of e-waste at more than £47.8 billion, largely held in precious metals such as gold and platinum, which are used to make electronics. The report – A New Circular Vision for Electronics – claims that around 80 per cent of the WEEE produced worldwide ends up in landfill, or dismantled with little or no regulation, in developing countries.
Processing hazardous waste without the appropriate safety controls is a danger to the health of workers, but the loss of valuable resources adds another dimension. If we are to meet our circular aims and build a resource efficient economy, we need to target those materials that can easily be applied to manufacture new products.
Landfill mining is another option. While this has taken place since the 1950s, it has recently come under greater scrutiny, with the launch of a new project in Belgium which uses plasma technology to heat waste to high temperatures and transform it into renewable gas.
In the UK, tapping the energy held in landfill waste to produce renewable electricity is commonplace. Of more than 500 landfill sites dotted around the UK – roughly five per county – 90 per cent produce renewable energy through landfill gas capture technology, and these sites have the potential to power every household in Northern Ireland for a year.
Landfill gas equipment pays dividends, both to the company that installs and manages the technology, and to the landfill owner, which receives royalty payments for hosting the equipment on its site. As long as the payments are regularly audited to ensure that rates reflect the current set-up, landfill gas represents a beneficial way for sustainable objectives and economics to complement each other.
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