Still, no one is actually asking the correct question:
The Government has been slammed by MPs for failing to respond quickly enough to an EU directive which set tough targets on the amount of waste that can be sent to landfill.
If it misses its targets the UK, which sent 18m tonnes of waste to landfill in 2003-2004, will have to pay fines to the European Commission which could total £180m per year.
The correct one being, not how are we going to reach these targets, but why are we trying to reach these targets? Why did we ever sign up to such and EU stricture?
Biodegradable municipal waste, such as food, vegetation and paper disposed of in landfill does not decompose naturally because of the lack of oxygen and instead generates methane, a greenhouse gas about 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The methane produced by landfill accounts for roughly 3 per cent of the United Kingdom\’s total production of climate changing gases.
And under the 2004 Landfill Act all new landfills (whether we recycle future waste or not will have no effect on what is already in the ground, of course) collect this gas and convert it to CO2. Quite how much of it is collected is an issue: I\’ve seen 85% (from an installer of such systems) and 75% (a recent comment here from a supporter of recycling) but is is something which we\’ve already addressed in another way.
And we also do not have accurate figures in the emissions of the various recycling processes. Wormeries, for example, are said to emit NO2, a greenhouse gas nearly 300 times more powerful than CO2. So much of it in fact, that the NO2 and CH4 emissions of wormeries and landfill respectively have the same CO2-e effect. But we collect and convert (some of) the CH4 and do not (and cannot) collect the NO2. So wormeries are worse for climate change than landfill.
So why are we trying to have more wormeries and fewer landfills?
Has the entire debate been taken over by ill-informed morons?*
* It\’s being run by bureaucrats and politicians, so of course, the answer is yes.