With 45.4 million tonnes of waste being dumped each year – enough to fill over 54,000 Olympic swimming pools – and only enough space for 175.1 million tonnes of waste left in total, a crisis is imminent.
This means that if this same rate of waste-to-landfill is maintained each year, England’s landfill sites will be overflowing by 2022.
The Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan promises to tackle many important waste recycling issues, including a major focus on the elimination of single-use plastics, but England will reach crisis point soon if there isn’t an immediate focus on the recycling of bulkier waste streams.
Over 1.6 million tonnes of bulky waste is sent to landfill every year, with furniture and mattresses accounting for 42 percent of this.
An analysis by The Furniture Recycling Group (TFR Group) has found mattresses make up 6.5 per cent of all the waste sent to landfill, with an estimated 7.5 million mattresses being dumped into the ground across the country each year. That’s 167,000 tonnes of annual mattress waste.
TFR Group is currently one of the only firms in the UK tackling this particular waste stream head on, recycling an incredible 338,000 mattresses each year.
Nick Oettinger, managing director of TFR Group, said: “I cannot stress enough the severity of the issue now facing the waste management industry because bulky waste has continually been ignored. Even if mattresses were the only form of waste sent to landfill, England’s landfill sites would reach full capacity within just 50 years – but with all forms of bulky waste we have less than FOUR years left. This spells disaster for future generations, who now face the horrifying prospect of seeing precious green space piled high with decaying mountains of mattresses and other waste that simply cannot be disposed of properly.”
And the benefits of bulky waste recycling extend far beyond preventing a landfill crisis. If just 50 percent of the mattresses currently being discarded were made up of recycled materials, CO2 emissions from the waste stream would be reduced by 34 percent and 85,000 tonnes of raw materials would be saved every year.
Nick added: “With the threat of climate change from increased CO2 emissions becoming ever clearer, making reductions to create a circular economy that supports a more sustainable future for generations to come is vital. The data is compelling and there are a number of promising solutions, but it remains to be seen if the country can head the warning and transform its recycling processes before the dangerously limited time runs out.”