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General Commercial Waste

General Commercial Waste was once called Landfill and as a nation we happily consumed packaging that was just tipped at the local landfill site. However, during the 1980s it was increasingly becoming evident that we were running out of landfill sites and needed in the UK to catch up with the rest of Europe and improve our recycling rates. Also European Directives started to influence our UK Recycling and Environmental Policies.

Landfill Tax was eventually introduced in 1996 by the Conservative Party and was the UK's first environmental tax. The tax was, and still is, seen as a key mechanism in enabling the UK to meet its targets as set out in the various landfill directives etc. Through increasing the cost of landfill, other advanced waste treatment technologies with higher gate fees, have become more financially attractive. Today landfill tax accounts for around 80% of the cost of tipping at landfill sites and the tax is £84 per tone. This tax has had an incredible influence on how companies behave and handle their waste streams.

The whole legal framework on how companies work with the environment has changed. The Environment Agency was created by the Environment Act 1995 and came into existence on 1 April 1996. This agency employs over 11,000 people! It took over the roles and responsibilities of the National Rivers Authority (NRA), Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) and the waste regulation authorities in England and Wales including the London Waste Regulation Authority (LWRA).

The Agency is the regulatory authority for all waste management activities, including the licensing of sites such as landfill, incineration and recycling facilities such as ours. It also regulates the movement of hazardous wastes, such as fibrous asbestos, infectious clinical wastes and harmful chemicals, not to mention the waste that we transport! The Agency issues Environmental Permits to waste management sites and any individuals or companies found to have caused pollution or have infringed their license conditions can be prosecuted. All of these regulations and rules have effected how companies like Prima operate.

In Kent there are no landfill sites left. General waste will typically be tipped at a transfer station and then much of that waste is then incinerated. Twenty years ago the only incinerator in the South East was at Edmonton, North London - today there are numerous sites. In Kent we use the Kent Enviropower Limited incinerator at Allington, Maidstone. We also use a variety of transfer stations.

Incineration is a practical method of disposal, that saves a lot of money on transport of waste to landfills and thus also the carbon footprint that such transport leaves behind. The sheer reduction in the space required to dispose of the 10 percent of waste that it does produce relieves pressure on land. Waste to Energy (WTE) incinerating plants have a huge advantage that they can produce electricity which, in the long run, can help to reduce costs. A 250 tonne per day incinerator can produce 6.5 megawatts of electricity per day and this in itself can save about £3 million per year.

Prima will look at your General Waste and look for the best solution. Not every transfer station is the same and we appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the various transfer stations. We are also acutely aware that price is high on everyone’s agenda!

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