DEBATE. EPA counteracts the remediation of old landfills, which would provide substantial environmental gains. The reasoning is tendentious and entirely incorrect, write researchers from Linköping University.
To extract natural resources from landfills is a way to save the earth’s resources, while taking care of the environmental debt that everyone these contaminated sites means. Research shows that integrated recycling and remediation of landfills would have major environmental and social benefits, from global to local level.
The Environmental Protection Agency has, together with the Tax Office, investigated the appropriateness of the tax exemption for the residual waste arising landfill recycling. The investigation, which is now out for consultation contains a number of shortcomings and tendentious reasoning directly counteracts the transition towards a circular economy.
But as with all new solutions are there to begin with uncertainties and challenges, not least when it comes profitability. Just use this uncertainty authorities as the reason for not doing anything to stimulate further development in the area. They believe that there are economic reasons for the state to favor landfill recovery and that the “free market” rather can and should create such incentives.
We think that argument is absurd and demonstrates a troubling ignorance of how social change takes place in reality. The reasoning is also contrary to the government’s vigorously expressed the political will to industrial renovation, with sustainability as one of the four theme song.
In order for new sustainable solutions will be introduced with successful results requires long-term investment in knowledge and technology. In most cases these are supplemented by institutional changes in the form of new instruments and adaptations of the laws and requirements, to motivate actors to invest their money in innovative transformation initiatives such as those launched for a circular economy.
Government commissioned the Environmental Protection Agency with the National Tax basically do not loose any of all the regulatory uncertainties that are landfill recycling. However hitting the fixed tax payable for all residual waste to be deposited, thus limiting greatly the willingness to invest in such initiatives.
An exemption from landfill tax in connection landfill recovery had cost the government very little and sent a clear signal to industry that the continued investment in this area is justified and desirable. This had also been a logical conclusion in that landfill recycling meets this skatts goal: to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill in favor of increased recycling.
Tax Agency concludes instead that a tax exemption is not possible as it constitutes State environmental aid, which must not be left to “companies that are in difficulty” (what are these?). The conclusion is completely wrong; there is a whole list of industrial residues in similar premises are exempt from landfill tax. In the case of landfill recycling it is not about “benefit” troubled businesses but rather about removing an unnecessary current regulatory obstacles to allow recycling companies to further contribute to the transition towards a circular economy.
Given the global changes we are now seeing and the EU’s ambitions for a circular economy, so secondary resources will have to play a central role in our future prosperity. Mining as copper, aluminum, zinc and renewable fuels from waste landfills can not solve this on your own, but the quantities are large enough to be able to double the annual recycling flows for decades to come. Despite this, judges Environmental Protection Agency resource potential of landfills as a child.
The reason for this conclusion is that we compare these stores with the huge amounts of selected metals found in low-grade “ore deposits” and whose extraction is likely to involve an unimaginably major negative environmental impact.
learning to extracting secondary resources from landfills and other stored up supplies in society will take time, and based on that there are companies who are willing to make large investments in knowledge and technology. These companies now need clarity, support, and political openness to new solutions instead of being discouraged by the authorities.
Joakim Krook, Associate Professor Environmental Technology, Linköping University
Mats Eklund , Professor environmental technology, Linköping University
Bjorn Wallsten , postdoctoral technology and social change, Linköping University
Nils Johansson , PhD environmental Technology, Linköping University
Niclas Svensson , lecturer environmental Technology, Linköping University
Stefan Anderberg , a professor of industrial ecology, Linköping University