HMRC have recently published their proposals for landfill charges and if you’re a landscaper they will make your eyes water. By 2014 the standard rate of tax for landfill will have increased to £80 a tonne. If you want to bore yourself rigid take a look at the details HERE.

As is often the case, all isn’t quite as bad as it seems.

In recent years many skip companies have morphed into ’waste management and recycling centres’ which means that most of what you put in a skip doesn’t actually reach landfill. Most things that enter a skip from a landscaping site can be recycled, from scrap metal through to topsoil and excavated spoil. It’s screeded through huge machines and given new life as either ‘screened topsoil’ or hardcore. OK the topsoil usually turns to gravy when it gets wet but this is the way of the future and we do need to embrace it.

More importantly this is only the thin end of a very big wedge and highlights the landscaping industry’s need to embrace some very challenging new concepts over the coming years.

Here’s the irony.  Much of the work we do is, in the short term, high in resource consumption. From the fuel burned in our machines and vehicles to the vast carbon footprints taken up by the paving we put down, our work is often far from environmentally friendly. And yet we produce the greenest and most beautiful of end products!

Often an initial garden clearance removes old paving and old hardcore, fences and gates, walls that have bricks and local stone and of course often topsoil is taken out. Could it be that over the next few years legislation and crippling tax hikes will force our industry and indeed our clients to start thinking far more sustainably. Can materials on site be reused?  Can existing paving be crushed and put under the new paving as hardcore or salvaged and used on other jobs? Can timber be salvaged and reused? Could unwanted material be buried on site?

Of course the real challenge lies in embracing new thinking and a new way of operating without losing the quality and visual impact of the end product. To have a win win situation for the environment, the client and the landscapers business – now that would be something.

Food for thought…