Two research councils have joined forces to launch a Pounds 7.5 million research programme on waste and pollution management.
The initiative by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council will fund work in three areas: landfill practice, the assessment and improvement of contaminated land and the re-use of waste materials in construction.
Mike Hotchkiss, programme manager based at the EPSRC, said the initiative was a response to demands on industry and commerce to clean up their output: "New legislation and wider awareness of environmental liabilities need greater understanding of risks and better techniques for managing them."
Landfill practice work will include testing "bioreactors" in which organic waste is degraded by bugs. The councils want to assess the impact of landfills - such as odour, gas and the movement of pollutants to the surface.
Mr Hotchkiss says that there may be up to 200,000 hectares of contaminated sites in the United Kingdom, the remediation costs of which could be enormous.
Assessment and remediation of contaminated land work will look at contamination sources, such as disused landfill sites and chemical plants, and pollutants including solvents and heavy metals.
Re-use of waste materials in construction research will examine how to dispose of demolition debris, excavated rock, industrial by-products and old tyres.