Undertaken for Defra, Resource Futures assessed and analysed the levels of biodegradability of waste in landfills across England and Wales. This project involved live sampling and analysis conducted over three phases to produce a statistically robust model. The resulting report suggested that levels were lower than expected with Defra using the evidence to inform their waste policy discussions and decisions.
In order to deliver informed discussion about waste policy, Defra needed to know the proportional biodegradability of mixed waste being sent to landfill, in order to measure progress against Landfill Directive BMW targets and to inform both future strategy and the Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This was a challenging piece of work, posing issues in terms of Health & Safety and managing the changeable weather conditions in a hostile environment.
We conducted large-scale waste analysis at 15 landfill sites across England and Wales, conducted over three phases, targeting waste by European Waste Catalogue code. We sorted more than 500 samples, representing around 75 tonnes of waste. The results were collated and analysed to produce a statistically robust model of the composition of waste entering UK landfill sites. We used a three-strong team and conducted the work over five weeks during 2010/11.
The main outcome was a report for Defra, which contained a model that accounted for 96% of mixed municipal waste going to landfill sites. The results suggest that biodegradable levels were less than expected. There is a high degree of confidence in data for EU waste codes 20.03.01 (mixed municipal waste) with variability in 19.12.12 (waste from mechanical treatment) which would benefit from further study.
Going forward, this will give Defra a source of robust data to plan evidence-based policy. It is also used to inform greenhouse gas inventory in order to quantify the climate change impact of landfill. The project demonstrated our expertise in organising delivery of a project in hostile environments, data management and analysis.