EfW boost as councils mark shift away from landfill

Two councils this week have announced steps forward in a shift away from sending waste to landfill – in what has been described as a ‘historic milestone’ by both authorities.

Devon county council has announced it will cease sending household residual waste to landfill from next week when a new waste transfer station operated by Suez becomes fully operational at Brynsworthy, Barnstaple.

The Brynsworthy waste transfer station will become fully operational next week

According to the council, the facility will allow it to bulk and transfer non-recyclable waste collected in the North Devon and Torridge areas for processing at Energy from Waste facilities in the region.

This will mark the end of household residual waste being sent to landfill in the county, the council claims. Latest Defra figures show that it sent 66,000 tonnes of waste to landfill in 2017/18, and 108,000 tonnes to EfW. Waste was landfilled at sites run by Viridor and Devon Waste Management.

Under a contract signed between the council and Suez early last year, worth up to £60 million over ten years, Suez will instead send waste from the northern part of the county to its Severnside energy recovery facility (see story). Waste from other areas of the county are sent to energy from waste plants at Exeter, operated by Viridor, and Devonport, operated by MVV.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon county council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Infrastructure and Waste said the facility marks a “historic milestone”.

Cllr Davis said: “Residents in Torridge and North Devon have already been doing a fantastic job separating their waste for recycling and I would urge them to keep recycling as much of their waste as possible, so we can continue to deal with waste in the most environmentally sound way. However, there is some waste that still cannot be recycled, and it is this that will be managed at the new waste transfer station.”

James Pike, regional director for Suez, said: “We are pleased to be building on our long standing partnership with Devon county council by constructing and operating this vital facility. Moving materials up the waste hierarchy is crucial to meeting our goal of living in a society with no more waste, and we look forward to helping the residents of Devon to divert their residual waste away from landfill.”

Also marking the step away from landfilling waste this week is York city council, which has announced that waste will no longer be sent to the city’s landfill – run by Yorwaste – which has closed after more than 30-years in operation.

The site at Harewood Whin near Rufforth, opened in the 1980s and will now, over time, be transformed into a wildflower meadow, York city council said.

The council and its operator Yorwaste said they will be marking this “significant moment” in York’s history this month.

Household waste collected in York and North Yorkshire is now being sent to Allerton Waste Recovery Park near Knaresborough.

Household waste from York and North Yorkshire is being sent to Amey’s Allerton Waste Recovery Park near Knaresborough

The plant can process up to 320,000 tonnes of waste per year and is operated by Amey on behalf of North Yorkshire county council and City of York council. Defra data suggests that the city landfilled 32,000 tonnes of waste in 2017/18, with 22,000 tonnes going to EfW.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment at York council, said: “Diverting waste from landfill is a step in the right direction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental issues. Our new facilities maximise mechanical separation of waste for recycling, and digestion of food and other organic waste before using waste to generate energy.

“However, our priority is to cut waste at source, York currently has a 44% recycling rate and we want to work with retailers and government to push this higher.”

Harewood Whin will continue to be used as a transfer station for all waste streams.