Health Impacts & Landfill Directive

Health Impacts & Landfill Directive

Health Impacts

There are no large risks to human health related to landfill sites in general. A review of 46 human health studies found that increased risks of certain effects (low birth weight, birth defects and certain types of cancers) have been reported near a few individual landfill sites. There is a possibility that other factors explain some of these findings but they may represent real risks in certain cases.

Symptoms such as fatigue, sleepiness and headaches have also been reported. Although these symptoms cannot be assumed to be an effect of toxic chemical action, they may indicate the impact that sites can have on stress and anxiety. It is very difficult to confirm any links between health and landfill sites and the Government has funded further research.

Landfill Directive 2002

Traditionally the UK has been heavily reliant on landfill to dispose of its waste.

The waste we produce is growing by about 3% every year, more than the growth in GDP (2-2.5%) and one of the fastest European growth rates for waste.

binsThe Landfill Directive which was adopted by the European Union 1999, is beginning to drastically change the way the UK handles waste. The directive was brought into force in the UK on 15 June 2002 as the landfill (England and Wales) regulations 2002, and since then it has been gradually introduced to give UK industry time to adapt. The directive brings with it tighter landfill site monitoring and engineering standards.


Landfill directive focuses on reducing the impact of municipal waste. The UK has been set challenging targets:

By 2010 the biodegradable waste landfilled must be reduced to 75% of that produced in 1995.

By 2013 the biodegradable waste landfilled must be reduced to 50% of that produced in 1995.

By 2020 the biodegradable waste land filled must be reduced to 35% of that produced in 1995. (If by 2016 target can be reached, the derogation will not be used for this target).

Additionally, the government’s waste strategy for England 2007, sets the following timetable:

Recycling & composting of household waste:

40% by 2010

45% by 2015

50% by 2020

Recovery of municipal waste:

53% by 2010

67% by 2015

75% by 2020