How energy from waste goes hand-in-hand with high recycling rates

Written by: RWW | Published:

A common argument of opponents to energy from waste (EfW) is that incineration crowds out recycling, writes Councillor Gareth Bacon, cabinet member for the environment and public realm at the London Borough of Bexley. They question why anyone would bother to recycle when an incinerator can easily burn everything. However often the reverse is true, and authorities with high recycling rates use incineration as a cost effective and efficient way to deal with their residual waste.

A common argument of opponents to energy from waste (EfW) is that incineration crowds out recycling, writes Councillor Gareth Bacon, cabinet member for the environment and public realm at the London Borough of Bexley. They question why anyone would bother to recycle when an incinerator can easily burn everything. However often the reverse is true, and authorities with high recycling rates use incineration as a cost effective and efficient way to deal with their residual waste.

This is certainly the case in the London Borough of Bexley. As the host borough of one of the largest EfW plants in Europe - Cory Environmental’s Riverside Resource Recovery Facility - the borough also boasts the highest recycling rate of any London authority, topping the London recycling league table for 12 of the last 13 years.

Back in 1986, Bexley’s recycling rate was 0.5%, and by continually improving recycling schemes, by 2012/13 the rate had reached 54.3%. The recycling of all types of food waste has helped the borough remain at the top of the recycling league tables. And, at the beginning of this year we expanded our recycling service to offer kerbside collection for most types of plastics. From 2007/8 to 2012/3 the amount of waste recycled rose from 44,600 tonnes to 52,000 tonnes. During the same period the amount of waste sent for energy recovery increased from 19,000 tonnes to 44,000 tonnes, leaving less than 800 tonnes a year to be disposed of in landfill. 

The Riverside Resource Recovery facility, operated by Cory Environmental in Belvedere on the South bank of the river Thames uses conventional tried and tested moving grate technology with a thermal efficiency of around 27%. This places it at the forefront of UK and European EfW technology for electricity generation. It has been awarded the coveted R1 status which means it is officially classified as a recovery facility rather than a disposal facility. 

The plant began taking waste from Bexley during its first period of commissioning. Following the successful completion of commissioning and trials it became fully operational in May 2013. The facility processes 670,000 tonnes of waste each year, and while the majority of this is from the Western Riverside Waste Authority, it plays an important part in helping Bexley deal with its 57,000 tonnes of residual waste which is delivered directly to the plant by collection vehicles. 

The plant is largely river served by Cory’s own fleet of tugs and barges, with even the residual bottom ash being removed in river-borne containers to a processing facility in Tilbury. There it is recycled into incinerator bottom ash aggregate for use in road building and was used in the recent M25 road widening scheme. 

As the cabinet member for the environment and public realm, I was delighted that Bexley was recently named the top recycling borough in London for the 12th time in 13 years, thanks to the efforts of our residents. By using Cory’s energy from waste facility to deal with our residual waste on our doorstep, it is not only being processed near its source, but is being used to help generate enough electricity to power around 100,000 homes each year.

Our continued success in recycling shows that a comprehensive recycling and composting scheme can work hand-in-hand with energy recovery to the benefit of residents. I am sure that by continuing to increase our recycling, using energy from waste to deal with residual and landfilling such a small percentage of our overall waste arisings Bexley will continue to lead the way in dealing with waste in a sustainable way. 

Not only does the incinerator provide work for local companies, Cory has contributed greatly to the community with more than £1.9 million in grants given to local projects through an Environmental Trust since 2007. Cory is the headline sponsor of Bexley’s ‘big day out’; the hugely successful Danson Festival which takes place annually over a summer weekend and is one of the South East’s largest free events, and also sponsors other local projects such as the Neighbourhood Watch scheme. Having Cory’s energy from waste facility sited in Bexley has proved to be a benefit to the community all round.

 


This material is protected by MA Business Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.