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Registration Number: 110174097 Approx.

1050 words (excluding bibliography, title and appendices)

What to do with Waste


Before discussing what to do with waste it is necessary to define the word "waste". The Oxford Dictionaries define waste as "unwanted or unusable material, substances, or by-products" (Oxford Dictionaries, n.d.) but this definition is subjective and is not universal for each type of waste. Material which one company may consider waste, another company may consider it an essential feedstock to their process, as the saying goes "One man's trash is another man's treasure". For the purposes of this essay the Oxford Dictionaries definition of waste (Oxford Dictionaries, n.d.) will be used. It goes without saying that the UK produces a large amount of waste material. In 2008 the UK produced an estimated 288.6 million tonnes of waste (UK Government, n.d.), with a population of 61.4 million people (Wright, 2010) this means the waste produced per capita in 2008 was approximately 4.7tonnes/year (Appendix 1.), or 12.9kg/day (Appendix 2.) for every person in the UK. The percentage of this waste that was deposited into or onto land in 2008 was approximately 47% (UK Government, n.d.). The household waste recycling rate in the UK in 2012/13 was 43.2% (UK Government - Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, 2013), although this is much higher than the European average municipal waste recycling rate of 35% in 2010 (Messenger, 2013), there is still a need for improvement to meet the European Union municipal waste recycling rate target of 50% by 2020 (European Commission, n.d.). Especially as sending waste to landfill comes with so many problems, such as causing bad odours, being unsightly, producing methane, spreading disease and polluting groundwater with toxins (Environment Victoria, n.d.). There are multiple ways of dealing with waste, they are all included in the waste hierarchy. The waste hierarchy covers the different methods of dealing with waste, some are deemed better options than others based on their environmental impact (European Union, 2008).

The most environmentally favourable option for dealing with waste is to prevent the waste from being created in the first place (European Union, 2008). This saves both energy and raw materials. For this to be effective waste should be reduced in households as well as in all sectors of industry. The government has a role to play in this, because they are able to give financial incentives to reduce waste. They have the ability to impose fines for companies and councils not meeting waste reduction targets, or bring in legislation to reduce the amount of packaging on a wide range of products to get rid of unnecessary waste at the source. The next most environmentally friendly way of dealing with waste is to reuse materials without first processing them (European Union, 2008). For example, repairing damaged items rather than replacing them, donating old clothes to charity or composting organic waste. However the waste is reused, the main point is that it is not sent to landfill or heavily processed, as both of these are bad for the environment; the former due to the landfill problems mentioned earlier, and the latter because processing waste materials uses a lot of energy. Further down the waste hierarchy the waste is actually being disposed of by its creator and this waste is being processed in some way by an external party. This next step down the hierarchy, after reuse, is recycling (European Union, 2008). Recycling involves processing waste to convert it into a

Registration Number: 110174097 Approx. 1050 words (excluding bibliography, title and appendices) usable material or product. Recycling serves to reduce the consumption of raw materials by using materials that have already been refined from their natural state. The production of refined materials from their virgin state often uses a lot more energy than the recycling of pre-existing materials (Recyclenow, n.d.), so recycling results in a large energy saving. Recycling waste that would have otherwise been incinerated or sent to landfill reduces CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is so important to preventing environmental damage that the European Union produced the Waste Framework Directive mentioned earlier that aims for a 50% household waste recycle rate by 2020 (European Commission, n.d.). Just below recycling on the waste hierarchy lies energy recovery (European Union, 2008). Energy recovery involves combusting waste to produce high pressure steam, this steam is used to drive turbines which generate electricity (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d.). The waste can also power a CHP plant which increases the useful energy that can be extracted from the waste by using the low grade waste heat to heat homes and businesses close to the plant (Veolia Environmental Services, n.d.a). The least environmentally friendly waste disposal practice is disposal of waste in a landfill site (European Union, 2008). Disposal in landfill is the lowest down on the waste hierarchy because no energy or material is recovered from the waste. The waste in landfill also produces methane from microbial breakdown of the waste (Veolia Environmental Services, n.d.b), methane has a high global warming potential (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, n.d.). The methane produced by landfills can be recovered and used for electricity generation or processed for use in the national grid (Veolia Environmental Services, n.d.b), this significantly reduces global warming potential of the gases produced. In summary, there are many ways to deal with waste, these are detailed in the waste hierarchy (European Union, 2008). The most beneficial to the environment are at the top of the hierarchy and this is how the majority of waste should be dealt with, reduce and re-use. Where it is not feasible to reduce or re-use waste it should be recycled as much as possible. On an international level the European Union is encouraging recycling with the Waste Framework Directive which sets the target of 50% of household waste to be recycled by 2020 (European Commission, n.d.). At a national level the UK government is encouraging recycling by requiring certain businesses to recycle a proportion of their waste (UK Government, 2013) and at the local level councils are providing separate recycling bins for household waste. Energy recovery and disposal to landfill should be the absolute last resort. The percentage of waste going to landfill in the UK is falling (letsrecycle.com, 2013) but more needs to be done in terms of encouraging recycling and changing public attitudes to recycling in order to meet, and even exceed, the European Union waste recycling targets.

Bibliography
Environment Victoria, n.d. The problem with landfill. [Online] Available at: http://environmentvictoria.org.au/content/problem-landfill [Accessed 18 November 2013].

Registration Number: 110174097 Approx. 1050 words (excluding bibliography, title and appendices) European Commission, n.d. Recycling. [Online] Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/policies/innovation/policy/lead-marketinitiative/recycling/ [Accessed 18 November 2013]. European Union, 2008. DIRECTIVE 2008/98/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19th November 2008 on waste and repealing certain Directives. [Online] Available at: http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:312:0003:0030:EN:PDF [Accessed 18 November 2013]. letsrecycle.com, 2013. More landfill sites close as waste volumes fall. [Online] Available at: http://www.letsrecycle.com/news/latest-news/waste-management/more-landfill-sitesclose-as-waste-volumes-fall [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Messenger, B., 2013. AUSTRIA TOPS EU RECYCLING RATE, UK & IRELAND RAPIDLY IMPROVING. [Online] Available at: http://www.waste-management-world.com/articles/2013/03/austria-top-eu-recyclingrate-uk-ireland-improving.html [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. waste. [Online] Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/waste?q=waste [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Recyclenow, n.d. Why recycling matters. [Online] Available at: http://www.recyclenow.com/why_recycling_matters/why_it_matters/ [Accessed 18 November 2013]. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Municipal Solid Waste. [Online] Available at: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/municipal/wte/basic.htm [Accessed 18 November 2013]. UK Government - Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, 2013. Statistics on waste managed by local authorities in England in 2012/13. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/85918/mwb20111 2_statsrelease.pdf [Accessed 18 November 2013]. UK Government, 2013. Reducing and managing waste. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/reducing-and-managing-waste [Accessed 18 November 2013]. UK Government, n.d. UK Waste Data. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/141979/UK_Wast

Registration Number: 110174097 Approx. 1050 words (excluding bibliography, title and appendices) e_data.pdf [Accessed 18 November 2013]. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, n.d. Global Warming Potentials. [Online] Available at: http://unfccc.int/ghg_data/items/3825.php [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Veolia Environmental Services, n.d.a. Energy recovery - the process. [Online] Available at: http://www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/Sheffield/What-happens-to-yourwaste/Energy-Recovery-Facility/Energy-Recovery---The-Process/ [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Veolia Environmental Services, n.d.b. Landfill gas recovery. [Online] Available at: http://www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/Hampshire/Recycling-andrecovery/Landfill-gas-recovery/ [Accessed 18 November 2013]. Violia Environnement, n.d. Landfill gas recovery. [Online] Available at: http://www.veoliaenvironmentalservices.co.uk/Hampshire/Recycling-andrecovery/Landfill-gas-recovery/ [Accessed 18 November 2013].

Appendix 1. 288.6million tonnes of waste produced by the UK in 2008 (UK Government, n.d.) 61.4million people in UK in 2008 (Wright, 2010)

Appendix 2.

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