Landfill - what you need to know

Landfill site

Did you know that as a community we only recycle 43.5% of the waste we produce across Aberdeenshire? On this page you can find out what happens to the waste you throw into your landfill bin, the impact it has on the environment, what it costs communities and what we can do to reduce landfill waste together.   

The world has evolved significantly compared to what it was thousands of years ago. Technology is ever-advancing and usually makes our lives easier and more convenient. We should logically have made big progress in the way we deal with our waste.

During the Stone Age, people discarded their waste in a hole in the ground. Today, we continue to do this by sending huge amounts of waste to landfill, where we cover it up.

The waste industry works hard to make landfill sites safe and environmentally sustainable to prevent pollution. However, landfill is not a sustainable solution and if the supply of waste continues we will theoretically use up all the available space to ensure our homes, streets and workplaces are rubbish free while damaging our environment. 

For the benefit of the environment, communities and future generations, everyone has to wake up to the problem we face and contribute to solving it. 

Landfill site

When you throw your waste in your landfill bin, it usually ends up at the Stoneyhill landfill site, near Peterhead within sight of the beautiful Buchan coast. Week after week, year after year. 

It is a huge mountain of rubbish made from an incredible amount of clothing, leather footballs, newspapers, children’s toys, nappies and household items. The smell is enough to take your breath away which indicates the quantity of food needlessly dumped there.

In our landfill site:

  • 62.6% is recyclable items
  • 21.8% is food waste which could go in food caddies for composting
  • 9.5% of food waste is still in its packaging
  • 4% is textiles and footwear which someone could reuse

Find out more about what’s going to landfill (PDF 202KB).

Landfill site with a lot of plastic close up

Cost and impact on the environment

Hundreds of tonnes of waste arrive at the landfill site six days a week, all year round. These deliveries are subject to landfill tax. It has been increasing steadily over recent years to help pay for solutions to reduce the harm we cause to the environment though our waste disposal.

In 2021, 70,477 tonnes went to landfill costing £8,777,868.

This is money which could be spent on other vital services including education, infrastructure and health and social care.

The smell is mainly generated by food waste, which attracts hordes of gulls, despite measures to deter them from getting an easy, free meal from the food being dumped there every day.

Items such as newspapers and packets of crisps swirl in the wind. Despite the fences designed to catch rubbish, when the wind gets too high, the site has to close to stop waste blowing all over the countryside.

The liquid that comes from waste when it decomposes is collected and has to be disposed of at another facility to prevent it from entering the environment.

Landfill site with a truck and seagulls

Reducing landfill waste

We provide a mixed recycling service which allows you to easily send a range of materials for processing into new resources which can be used over and over again.

We provide food waste caddies to every home and collect them every week. Local farmers spread the composted food waste to their fields.

We operate a number of glass and textiles recycling points across the region. Glass is sent to be made into new bottles and jars while textiles can be reused by charities or turned into cloths and rags.

We have a network of recycling centres and recycling points within reach of most communities and other solutions to the barriers people face in dealing with their waste responsibly.

Despite this, many remain blind to the problem we all face. For many people, the waste they create is no longer their problem once the bin lid closes. But, the waste doesn't just disappear, we have to deal with it.

Landfill sites will no longer be acceptable so we must find an alternative as a community. We plan to burn non-recyclable waste in an Energy from Waste Plant to convert it into energy in partnership with our neighbouring local authorities. 

More information on how you can help with our collective waste problem is available in our bins and recycling section where you can find: 

You can also contact Wasteline for further advice.