Landfill Tax – How to How to Reduce Your Waste Disposal Costs

Any waste that cannot be reused or recycled has to go somewhere, and that place is usually a landfill site. Landfill sites are located, designed and operated in such a way as to protect the environment from contaminants. However, dumping so much waste inevitably has an impact.

Resources | 7min read

Commerical & trade waste collection

That can come in the form of air pollution, the loss of biodiversity, groundwater pollution, a reduction in soil fertility and visual and health impacts. 

Over the years, there have been many initiatives that are designed to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. One of those is the landfill tax. In this guide, we’ll explain what landfill tax is, what the landfill tax rates are for 2021 and what businesses can do to reduce their waste disposal costs.

What is Landfill Tax?

Landfill tax is an additional charge that companies must pay on top of the normal costs associated with using a landfill site. It is designed to disincentivise private businesses, local authorities and other organisations from disposing of their waste in landfill.

Why was the Landfill Tax Introduced (and when)?

The UK landfill tax was introduced in 1996 to better reflect the environmental costs of sending waste to landfill. The tax aims to reduce the amount of waste that is created in the first instance and cut the proportion of that waste that ends up in landfill. The tax has been largely successful in achieving those goals. In 2000/01, 79 million tonnes of waste was sent to landfill in the UK. That had fallen to 45 million tonnes in 2019.

How is Landfill Tax Charged and What are the Current Rates?

It is the landfill sites themselves that are responsible for collecting and paying the landfill tax over to the government. They pass the cost of the tax on to the businesses and organisations that dispose of waste in landfill sites in the form of higher prices.

There are two landfill tax rates in the UK: a standard rate and a lower rate.

Standard rate

The standard rate of landfill tax covers ‘active waste’, that is, waste that will either decay or contaminate land over time. In practice, that covers most of the different types of waste that are likely to be handled by a business or household. Most users pay landfill tax at the standard rate. The standard rate of landfill tax is currently charged at £94.15 per tonne (2020/21). That has increased from just £7 in 1996, representing a 1,245% rise.

Lower rate

The lower rate of landfill tax applies to ‘inactive waste’. That’s waste that does not compose and is neither chemically nor biologically reactive. This includes many of the materials used in the construction industry, such as concrete, brick, soil, glass and clay.The lower rate of landfill tax is charged at just £3.00 per tonne (2020/21), making it far cheaper to dispose of this less polluting material in landfill.

Who Has to Pay Landfill Tax?

Although landfill sites are responsible for paying the landfill tax to the government, this type of ‘trickle-down tax’ will be paid by every party that produces or collects waste.

  • Landfill sites increase their prices to account for the tax.
  • Those prices are then paid by commercial waste collection services.
  • The waste collection services increase the prices they charge to everything from construction businesses and offices to shops and retail parks.
  • Ultimately, any organisation that disposes of commercial waste in a landfill site will end up paying this tax.

There are some exemptions to landfill tax that you can read more about here.

How Can You Pay Less Landfill Tax?

The only way you can pay less landfill tax is by sending less waste to landfill sites. There are several steps you can take to reduce the amount of waste your business produces that ends up in landfill. That includes:

  • Opting for reusable items whenever possible
  • Recycling more of your business waste
  • Eliminating unnecessary waste generation from your business processes
  • Understanding what parts of your business waste comes from and taking steps to do things differently
  • Better managing your printing and paper consumption
  • Partnering with commercial waste experts

And that’s where we come in. As commercial waste experts, we help our customers in construction and a wide range of other industries to reduce their waste management costs. Our waste collection services are specifically designed to divert over 90% of your waste away from landfill sites. That results in lower waste management costs, a reduced landfill footprint and a more sustainable business.

The government has also put initiatives in place to incentivise businesses to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill. They include:

Zero Waste to Landfill

Zero Waste to Landfill is a certification for businesses who can demonstrate that all of the waste they produce is treated correctly and none of it ends up in landfill. The benefits of Zero Waste to Landfill certification include cost savings, legal compliance, an ability to demonstrate your commitment to the environment and the use of the Zero Waste to Landfill logo for marketing purposes.


The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is a UK-registered charity. It has created voluntary waste management agreements with businesses in industries ranging from construction to retail. More than 700 construction companies have succeeded in halving their waste to landfill as a result of one of the charity’s initiatives.

Receive Zero Waste to Landfill Certification with AMA Waste 


At AMA Waste, we are committed to Zero Waste to Landfill and take every effort to ensure our customers know exactly where their waste ends up. That includes detailed waste reports that help our customers meet and demonstrate their environmental obligations. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you manage your waste responsibly and cost-effectively.