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Most British household rubbish is buried in landfill sites. There are several large landfill sites in Lincolnshire. The waste buried at these sites comes from householders, shops, offices and industrial sites.

There are also some smaller landfill sites around the county that only take soil and brick rubble. Many landfill sites are based in former quarries or gravel workings.  However, not all are suitable as landfill sites because of the rock type, or there may be a risk of pollution to drinking water sources.

Landfill sites are carefully designed and managed.  They are usually lined with clay or plastic membrane, which prevents any pollutant in the waste spreading into the surrounding land or water.

When waste arrives at the site it is tipped and spread out.  Heavy machinery is used to squash the waste.  This removes air spaces and increases the amount of waste that the site can hold.  At the end of the day the waste is covered by a layer of soil, to prevent litter and any odours escaping.  When the site is full it is capped off with clay and the site is then landscaped.

The waste in the landfill site rots away over time. As the waste rots it slowly settles, and gases and liquids are produced.

The landfill gas that is produced contains methane. Methane is flammable and can cause explosions in confined spaces. This means that the landfill site has to be managed for many years after it is full. Some sites produce so much methane it can be collected and used to generate electricity. This then goes into the National Grid and is used to power homes and businesses.

The liquid that is produced is called leachate. It contains lots of different chemicals from the different waste that has rotted away. Leachate is not allowed to escape into nearby rivers and streams as it can kill fish and other water based organisms. Leachate is usually treated in specially designed plants, a bit like sewage treatment works.  The treated water is then safe to discharge into the environment.

The Environment Agency is responsible for licensing and inspecting landfill sites in England and Wales to prevent pollution or harm to human health. Use the weblinks below to find out more about your nearest landfill site and the Environment Agency's work on landfill regulation.

Landfill tax

In 1996 the government introduced a tax on each tonne of waste put in a landfill site. This tax is collected by landfill site operators.

Vehicles using the landfill sites are weighed when they arrive and leave the site.  The weighbridge calculates how much waste has been deposited.  The landfill operator charges the customer for the disposal of the waste and the landfill tax.  The landfill site operator is then responsible for paying this tax to central government. The tax was introduced for two reasons:

  • To reduce the amount of rubbish buried in landfill sites by increasing costs of disposal 
  • To encourage more environmentally friendly methods such as recycling.

There are two rates of landfill tax.  Certain types of waste, such as hardcore, cause less pollution so have a lower rate of tax.  The current landfill tax rates are available from HM Revenue and Customs

The Landfill Communities Fund is designed to help the people who live near the landfill site. The scheme uses some of the income generated from landfill tax for community projects.  This helps to build good relationships between the landfill site and the local community. To find out more about the Landfill Communities Fund please visit the weblinks below.


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Last updated: 14 March 2017

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