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Wrap looks at the value of sending plastics to landfill

By Anthony Clark
Posted 27 November 2012

Wrap’s latest report, Landfill Bans: Feasibility Research, says a prohibition on landfill could save the UK £2.1bn over a 15-year period.

The paper, which updates work carried out in 2010, however suggests that plastics could qualify for a special exemption. According to its authors: “Taking environmental benefits and costs using the social cost metric together, the modelled cost benefit analysis suggests that a landfill restriction for plastics could result in net costs to society of £170m, and a ban on unsorted waste could increase these costs to £480m over the period examined.

“For plastics, therefore, although the environmental benefits are significant, they do not appear to be justified by the additional costs. It should be considered that this observation applies to additional plastics recycling over and above levels already assumed to occur in the baseline, and does not necessarily imply that existing levels of recycling are not justified.”

The report concludes that a ban on unsorted waste could save 120 million tonnes of CO2 by 2024 but if the net worth of valuable materials – where environmental benefit exceeded costs – is taken into consideration then a the CO2 figure drops to 73 million tonnes.

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