BRITAIN COULD miss targets to meet the requirements of the European Union's (EU) Landfill Directive, the chairman of an influential group told delegates at a recent ICE conference.
And delegates also heard that the UK could face swingeing fines as a result.
Parliamentary sustainable waste management group chairman Dr Alan Whitehead MP gave the keynote speech at last month's ICE waste management conference Waste management: the multi-billion pound opportunity for construction.
Whitehead told delegates that the volume of waste requiring disposal was rising by 3% per year, making the tough targets 'even more challenging'.
The EU directive aims to 'prevent or reduce as far as possible the negative effects of landfilling waste on the environment and human health'.
Measures to meet the requirements of the directive have been implemented in stages from 2002 and include banning liquid wastes from landfills and reclassifying municipal waste.
The directive requires that the volume of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill reduces to 75% of 1995 levels by 2010, decreasing to just 35% by 2020.
Management consultant Ernst & Young predicts that between £6bn and £7bn needs to be spent over the next 10 years in the waste industry to cope with the demands of the landfill directive.
John Burns, waste implementation programme director at the Department of the Environment Food & Rural Affairs, also spoke at the conference.
He emphasised the contribution engineers could make to the waste management industry. 'This is the start of an enormous change in waste - both a challenge and an opportunity, ' he said.
He warned that if the requirements of the directive are not met, the government could face fines of up to £180M a year.
The government had set aside £355M in the form of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) credits for waste management projects, he explained.
Also since 2003, £223.8M in funding has been made available to local authorities to help them cope with the demands of the directive.