Friday, 25 May 2012

Landfill tax changes - threat or opportunity?

The environmental industry web sites are all singing the same tune today with articles dealing with the general disquiet over the changes in the landfill tax regulations for fines from trommels or screens.

The dominant voice seems to be the one that talks about the 2460% rise from £2.50 per tonne to £64 per tonne as a threat to the future of the industry and the potential for increase in fly tipping that will occur as a result. There are however some dissenting voices happy that a loop-hole has been closed that allowed for what David Palmer Jones described as '"cheap landfilling".

While there no doubt be attempts in the coming weeks and months to have this decision reversed it's also important for them to know that there is an alternative to the high landfill costs. It is possible to produce high quality recycled sand and aggregates from this material if more sophisticated processing systems are employed.

Simple crushing and screening of this material will not allow production of these quality recycled sand and aggregates. Introducing a washing plant will successfully divert the vast majority of this material from landfill and allow for the increased specification of recycled products on construction projects across the country.

While the initial reaction to this development is that it poses a threat to the industry there is no doubt that there is an opportunity here for operators dealing with this material to upgrade their processing systems in a move to avoid the huge increase in landfill tax.

The UK has established a reputation as the world leader in C&D waste recycling over the last decade largely due to the development of more sophisticated systems - which has only happened as a result of increased demand in this area. It has to be said that this demand has largely been driven by Government interventions and this landfill tax rise is simply the latest of these.

The industry has responded to challenges like this previously and it will do again - if these changes are here to stay then it has to in order to survive. Even if the decision is challenged we all know the decision will not be reversed any time soon given the government's reputation for quick action.

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