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Ways to reduce waste in landfill

How to Reduce Landfill Waste

Reducing landfill waste is important as they’re terrible for the environment. Landfill sites are convenient for dumping rubbish, but they produce high levels of methane – an incredibly hazardous greenhouse gas. Most waste that decomposes in landfill adds to these pollution levels while others leach toxins that may contaminate nearby water, ground, and air.

Landfills are bad for many reasons but it’s not just the environmental elements. They can be harmful to the health of humans and wildlife, release a foul odour that affects local living conditions, and cost a lot to operate. In the UK there are around 500 landfill sites that accept all sorts of waste.

All these problems mean businesses and households across the country need to do their bit to reduce landfill waste. Discover how you can play your part to protect the environment, human health, and save money with these tips for ways to reduce waste sent to landfill sites.

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How can we reduce the amount of 
waste that is sent to landfill?

Businesses and households can all play a part in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill across the UK. Reducing waste in the first place is the best way to minimise how much rubbish ends up in landfill. Simply throwing away fewer items means there’s less chance of it going to a landfill site.

Lots of general waste and solid waste make their way to landfill. It depends on your local council or authority at home and the waste collector your business uses. Many now look for alternatives such as incineration and energy from waste plants but unfortunately, lots of general waste still ends up in landfill.

Consider these ways to reduce waste in landfill by improving waste management in your business or household:

  • Reduce waste – simply reducing how much domestic waste and commercial waste we create minimises the amount that ends up in landfill. Conduct a waste audit of your business to identify where you produce waste, what types, and how much. Use these results to form a waste management plan with effective action and goals to trim how much waste you generate. You can do a similar thing at home but in a more informal way. Finding ways to cut back on waste at the source will lead to less reliance on landfill and save your company money on waste disposal costs.
  • Increase recycling – recycling rubbish rather than throwing it away with general waste is an easy way to avoid it going to landfill. Businesses should have a wide range of different bins across their premises to separate waste materials at the source and recycle them. Small premises like offices can use dry mixed recycling bins to collect a combination of paper, cardboard, metal, and plastics for recycling (except in Wales). Households should also work to improve domestic recycling rates by using the recycling bins provided by local authorities and household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) for items not accepted in domestic bins (such as electronics, furniture, and glass).
  • Reuse materials – finding ways to reuse products, items, and materials saves them from going to landfill and reduces waste. It could be something as easy as reusing a plastic drink bottle at work or something that requires a bit more effort like upcycling an old dining room table rather than chucking it away. Businesses can consider ways to reuse items like wooden delivery pallets as planters in gardens or restaurants can convert empty wine bottles into vases and candle holders.
  • Generate energy from waste – recovering energy contained in waste materials is the next best step to minimise waste going to landfill if you can’t reduce, reuse, or recycle it. Anaerobic digestion is a process that creates energy from food and organic waste, while incineration is also used at energy from waste facilities. The methane and gases produced during the process are controlled and used to create energy, rather than released into the atmosphere and contributing to pollution like they do if waste goes to landfill.
  • Compost food and garden waste – organic waste such as food and garden waste should never go to landfill as it holds many benefits. Composting is a natural way to recycle organic waste. If your organisation has space you could build a compost pile as a way to dispose of organic waste, avoid it going to landfill, and create compost to use on your garden. Alternatively, many waste collection services take food and garden waste to industrial composting sites. At home, if you’ve got a garden then using a small compost bin in the kitchen and making a heap outside is a great way to reduce landfill waste.
  • Donate old items – you might not be able to reuse products and items but someone else or another organisation could need them. Old clothes, furniture, electronics, and even packaging waste such as wooden pallets and cardboard boxes (great for moving home) will be readily accepted by others. Find a local charity shop for any domestic items you no longer need or list them online. Businesses can also partner with charities and community causes, such as donating food to food banks or animal shelters.
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Read more waste reduction guides

We create waste in almost every area of our daily lives but there are ways to reduce it. Find out how to reduce waste materials and cut back on rubbish produced across various industries to prevent it from going to landfill with our expert guides.

Read our waste reduction guides
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