Zero Waste to Landfill – What Does it Mean?

‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ is a commonly used term across the waste management industry which encapsulates an environmentally friendly philosophy towards reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

There are numerous reasons why landfill is an undesirable waste disposal solution and why a Zero Waste to Landfill policy can be beneficial to business. However, achieving the goal is no mean feat, so here is our ultimate guide to Zero Waste to Landfill.

As the premier waste management provider in South Wales, SL Recycling strive to achieve sustainable and environmentally considered waste management, which includes our own personal commitment to Zero Waste to Landfill.

Find out more about our environmental commitment >

What is Zero Waste to Landfill?

As the title suggests, Zero Waste to Landfill is a philosophy of reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

Although ‘Zero’ is used, not all waste types can be otherwise processed and may end up in landfill. The main point is that companies aim towards reducing their landfill usage significantly, with at least 99% of waste diverted from landfill.

Through exploring alternative solutions of disposal or further use, the initiative helps waste producers understand and better value their waste – hence our motto “Waste Matters”! Additionally, diverting waste from landfill and maximising its potential can help businesses cut costs and increase process efficiency.

Achieving Zero Waste to Landfill is more of a philosophy businesses work towards, however certifications are available, for example the Carbon Trust Standard for Zero Waste to Landfill.

Zero Waste to Landfill vs Zero Waste

Zero Waste to Landfill is a clear drive to divert as much waste as possible from landfill and is an achievable target businesses take on as a goal.

Zero Waste initiatives, on the other hand, describe a longer-term commitment to reducing waste output dramatically overtime until eventually the business creates no waste at all. This goal is less achievable and involves total re-evaluation of business processes to prevent waste creation.

The main differences lay in time period of completion but also in the stage of waste creation; Zero Waste focusses on the creation of waste, whereas Zero Waste to Landfill mainly concerns how waste is dealt with.

Why is Zero Waste to Landfill Important?

Landfill has long been used as a disposal method; however, it is not a long-term solution due to reduced available space for landfill and its negative environmental effects in terms of pollution. Avoiding using landfill therefore has a positive environmental impact for business.

Other benefits include:


By using materials more effectively, and for longer, businesses may benefit from cost savings including waste management and material turnovers. Also, landfill tax has increased to discourage usage.


Climate change, and action against it, has become a political issue with legal bodies often setting regulations and tightening controls on processes including waste management. You ensure your business stays compliant to the latest legislation as well as helping the environment by following legislation leading towards better waste management and reduced landfill reliance.


Not to say marketing should be a driver behind business decisions, but environmental credentials no doubt attract consumers, especially as environmental concerns are increasingly important to consumers. It may be that your business is chosen over another because you advertise your strong commitment to Zero Waste to Landfill.


As mentioned, the detrimental toll that landfill takes on the environment is critical to the Zero Waste to Landfill aim. Driven by taxes and regulations too, businesses with environmental concern should aim to achieve reduced waste to landfill.

How to Achieve Zero Waste to Landfill?

As hard as businesses may try, it is not always possible to achieve ‘zero’ waste to landfill. For example, energy recovery methods may create ash or certain hazardous waste may have to go to landfill. Where possible though, alternative treatment methods should be explored.
The main way to explore alternative solutions is through the Waste Hierarchy, a model of waste management explored later in this blog.

The initial stages to achieving Zero Waste to Landfill involve gathering waste data and gaining an understanding of the waste created and how it can be dealt with. By analysing the waste created and the life cycle it undergoes, you can find areas where potential could be better maximised.

As Zero Waste to Landfill is a strong claim, you must have provable documentation to support the claim, possibly including waste transfer notes or waste management reports.

Another critical feature in achieving Zero Waste to landfill is consistency; if not properly maintained and assessed, waste management systems may not be upkept and landfill diverting schemes neglected. To create a lasting, sustainable impact, maintaining the philosophy is key.

The Waste Hierarchy

The Waste Hierarchy is essentially the baseline for Zero Waste to Landfill initiatives, which highlights the various solutions for waste before resulting to landfill.

The model, an upside-down triangle, depicts the methods from most to least favourable, starting at prevention and ending with landfill, which is presented as a last possible resort. Overall the goal of the model is to encourage waste creators and management providers to explore alternative solutions and get the most out of waste.


The best way to divert waste from landfill is to simply not create it in the first place. During prevention, a business may explore alternative processes to reduce waste, or environmentally friendly packaging.

Prepare for Reuse

Reusing materials transforms waste from uneconomical to valuable and useful. A simple example is plastic bags, often dobbed single-use but able to be reused over and over.


In order to transform waste products into new items, waste must be recycled. Many materials can be recycled, i.e. cardboard, glass, metal, wood and more, helping to reduce waste in landfill. Materials can often be recycled many times without losing quality.


Through a variety of processes, from incineration to anaerobic digestion and more, waste materials are transformed into energy. Although this uses up the material and it cannot be used again, the process results in the benefit of energy creation.


Disposal here means going to landfill or incinerating waste without gaining energy. Through this method, there is no new product created or benefit from destroying waste. Landfill sites contribute to pollution; for example, untreated waste pollutes waterways and food waste releases methane.

Why is waste Management Important?

Aside from alleviating business owners of the hassle of waste disposal and expense of inefficiency, waste management is important for compliance, staff health and the environment.

Effective waste management is often required by legislation. Businesses must show commitment to the environment, by law, when disposing of waste. Legislation varies according to business type, waste produced and region, however waste management providers are on hand to help ensure compliance.

Vital for environmental benefit, waste management can help businesses maximise their recycling. Where before waste was just disposed of, providers can advise and aid businesses on ways to improve their environmental impact.

Staff wellbeing can also be helped by waste management, through effective disposal of certain waste type, especially hazardous waste.

Learn More with SL Recycling

At SL Recycling we are dedicated to managing and recycling waste in the most environmentally considered way. Our motto “Waste Matters” reflects our commitment to making waste count, ensuring our customers receive comprehensive waste management with positive impacts. We constantly strive towards Zero Waste to Landfill and endeavour to continue diverting the majority of waste we process from landfill.

Are you looking for environmentally considered waste management? Get in contact with SL Recycling today!

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