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The human Wall-E looms for the future of waste management

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Chasing scarce materials and tighter recycling as we chase zero-landfill economy

Advances in technology coupled with the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and raw materials mean that we're going to have to look closer at how we deal with our refuse.

That's the view of a major UK waste management company which is committed to reducing the amount of refuse Britain sends to landfill, and explores new way of making sure alternative uses for waste are found.

Industry leaders at last month's major RWM Show in Birmingham addressed the problem, and according to BusinessWaste.co.uk, now is the time for the industry to come together with major innovators to bring about the dream of the zero-landfill society.

"It's time to think about 'out there' solutions," said BusinessWaste.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall, "Because there are tens of millions of pounds worth of resources locked up in refuse that are quite literally sitting there ready to be exploited."

"And we're convinced that ideas which are seen as science-fiction today will be fact in the very near future."

BusinessWaste.co.uk is convinced that there is so much valuable waste locked away in landfills that rising commodity prices mean it may one day become viable to open sites again and 'mine' them for metals and other resources.

"Perhaps we've been watching Wall-E in the office again, but there are sites which date back to before we were concerned about recycling that are positively brimming with useful material.

"Obviously, we haven't got an army of friendly robots for the job, so we could be looking at the age of the human Wall-E."

"Obviously, we haven't got an army of friendly robots for the job, so we could be looking at the age of the human Wall-E."

However, those in the industry are trying to steer the discussion away from landfill and towards incineration, which has obvious benefits for energy recovery.

While improved recycling rates mean that the amount of refuse that is being sent for energy recovery through incineration may have reached its peak, Business Waste says that the future of the industry will be a happy medium between the two.

BusinessWaste.co.uk says that careful monitoring across the entire waste management process from customer to final disposal will eventually prove cost-effective. While this currently means great human intervention, automated processes are coming on board all the time to improve efficiency.

"It's clear that greater care is needed in recycling to prevent useful resources from going to waste," said Hall. "And in the meantime, more and more UK-based incineration plants are coming on line which deal with the rest and helping in some small way stave off the forecast British energy crisis."

"While some waste is neither suitable for recycling nor incineration and will have to be dealt with by alternative means, we are clearly heading towards a world where zero per cent landfill could be a reality."


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