York, UK — The act of sending rubbish to landfill sites is far more expensive and damaging as most people think, because it isn’t all about burying waste in a hole in the ground and forgetting about it. According to waste management company BusinessWaste.co.uk more people need to know the true financial and environmental cost of waste disposal to encourage them into better recycling habits.
The „hidden“ costs such as constant monitoring of landfill sites mean that burying rubbish is not the simple relatively cost-free solution many people believe it to be. If people knew the truth there’d be more pressure on the authorities to cut landfill use to the bare minimum. As BusinessWaste.co.uk founder Mark Hall argues, „even dormant landfill sites need monitoring years after they close. The threat of pollution and other hazards remains real decades after the last truck has delivered its load. If people knew how much it costs – both financially and environmentally, everybody would make greater efforts toward ethical waste disposal.“ The costs involved will continue over many years to ensure public and environmental safety: „It’s thousands of pounds, per site, per year, until eternity.“
A recent Environment Agency report on a recently-closed landfill site near Gateshead lays bare the costs and difficulties maintaining such a facility safely, even after its gates close: for example efforts required just to keep foul smells out of the nostrils of nearby residents or the establishment of air monitoring stations, gas wells to prevent the build-up of methane, and making good the area to restore it to a living environment. By continuing to use landfill as a waste solution only adds to such measures. „We might as well be burying sacks of cash along with all that refuse,“ Mark Hall says. „It’s tens of thousands of pounds for every site in the country. We’re talking millions in total, every year.“ And he added: „We’re going to have to pay for the mistakes of the past for years to come, and there’s no escaping it.“
According to BusinessWaste.co.uk, improving the UK’s admittedly poor recycling rates and investing in alternative solutions need to be addressed urgently. It’s an approach that has been a raging success in Baltic and Nordic countries and can be a success in the UK, too. „The best thing we can do is to find greener, safer alternatives to burying our waste in big holes in the ground and pretending it’s out of sight and out of mind,“ says Hall. „I’d rather spend money on good things, rather than clearing up after bad.“