Black Bag: Kicking the landfill habit – Advanced Plasma Power featured in Engineering & Technology Magazine

There can be no greater shrine to human waste than landfill sites. The UK buries more than 18.8 million tonnes of household waste every year – two million tonnes more than any other EU country – only Greece, Spain and Ireland top it on a per capita basis. Although the UK has reduced the amount of waste that is sent to landfill sites – now 43.4 per cent from 79 per cent ten years ago – it still consigns 57 millions of tonnes of rubbish for burial each year – this comprises household waste along with that from industry and construction.

But the era of burying waste is coming to an end. Estimates from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) point to only 650 million cubic metres of capacity left in the ground – three times the volume of Lake Windermere – which means that the UK will reach its limit by 2018.

So what is the solution? Greater recycling can ease the burden on landfills, organic material can be diverted to alternative waste streams, but there will still be the remaining waste. The answer could lie in incineration, although that has its own environmental concerns, and further in the future there is the possibility of gas plasma technology.

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