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Weighing up the costs of waste

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Oliver Heidrich, Professor Thomas Donnelly


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Approximately 28 million tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) were collected in the UK in 1998/99 with a recycling rate of 9.5% (DETR ). Landfilling is still the favoured outlet for waste in the UK. The DETR has estimated that over 80% of MSW is discarded to landfill. All other EC countries discard on average approximately 41% to landfill (ETC/W ). Changes are required to achieve UK recycling targets (DETR ) and to reduce waste to landfill as required by the landfill directive (Council Directive) . In Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium, weighing of MSW at the point of collection was adopted in 1991 (OVAM ) and its effects were scientifically evaluated in 1994 (Baur ). The weighing process has enabled direct charges (Polluter Pays Principle) to be made. The use of this system in the above countries has enabled the costs of collection to be reduced by approximately a third with an associated reduction in waste quantities for final disposal of more than 50% (Lebach Beyer ). Recent journal articles in the UK have predicted that on board weighing systems will be widely used throughout Europe (IWM ; Radermaker ). This paper addresses the economic, social and environmental impacts (triple bottom line) of weighing MSW in individual household containers based on case studies from the continent. One case study has been discussed in more detail as SHWRU investigated the impacts of such a system from the political and administrative viewpoint including the financial aspects. SHWRU interviewed political and technical personnel from local authorities, which enables the display of opportunities and areas of concern. Additionally, the impact of such a weighing system on waste production, reduction, recycling, disposal and the use of illegal disposal routes will be documented. The potential for introducing such a taxation system based on individual household weighing in to the UK is briefly discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Heidrich O, Donnelly T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Wastes Management

Year: 2001

Volume: 12

Issue: 1

Pages: 42-44

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 0263-8126

Publisher: IWM Business Services Ltd.