Isle of Wight seeks to reduce use of 'unreliable' gasifier

22 June 2011

By Chris Sloley

The Isle of Wight council has outlined plans to radically overhaul its waste and recycling service in a bid to reduce its dependence on the “unreliable” gasification plant on the island.

The council’s cabinet last night (June 21) voted unanimously in favour of plans to expand the range of material collected at the kerbside, introduce 240 litre wheeled bins, move residual waste collections from weekly to fortnightly and provide two caddies for food waste collections.

The Isle of Wight council has outlined plans to overhaul its recycling service to make it less dependent on the Waste Gas Technology gasification plant
The Isle of Wight council has outlined plans to overhaul its recycling service to make it less dependent on the Waste Gas Technology gasification plant

And, cabinet documents show that the overhaul was prompted by concerns over the council’s dependence on the 30,000 tonne-a-year capacity gasification plant operated by Waste Gas Technology – a subsidiary of energy firm Energos - at Forest Road in Newport.

In the documents, the local authority said that the plant forms a key element of the council’s waste disposal strategy and it is “largely reliant” on the performance of the plant.

However, it claims that the plant has proved “unreliable” and states that it is currently “failing to protect against the effects on increases in landfill tax and LATS (Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme) penalties”.

Furthermore, the council states that it has “no direct control” over operation of the plant, as it is operated under agreement between the council’s waste contractor Island Waste Services and Waste Gas Technology.

Waste Gas Technology was forced to temporarily close the plant in May 2010, and again in October, after breaching emissions limits (see letsrecycle.com story).

The plant was successfully reopened on October 9 2010 and is said to have undergone 10 independent emissions tests (see letsrecycle.com story).

Despite the plant reopening, the Isle of Wight council said it was “imperative” that the recycling service was altered to ensure that the majority of material could be recycled “thereby reducing reliance on gasification”.

Energos

Speaking to letsrecycle.com, energy firm Energos - the parent company of Waste Gas Technology - said it recognised that it had been a "difficult year" and acknowledged the council's decision to overhaul its service.

Nick Dawber, managing director of Energos, said: "Following the temporary shutdown last summer of the Isle of Wight gasification facility for repairs to the flue gas filter system, the plant has been processing residual waste since October 2010 – meeting availability expectations and in full compliance with the EU Emissions Standard.

"We recognise that the lack of availability was difficult last year and that the Council needed to consider its waste disposal options, including a decision to remove dry mixed recyclates." 

Mr Dawber added that the Forest Road plant is "not typical of the other seven European facilities using Energos technology" as it was adapted from a pre-existing energy recovery from waste facility, with the addition of an Energos gasifier at the front end.

He said: "It is this re-used infrastructure that has caused reliability issues. We are closely monitoring system performance and undertaking preventative maintenance to ensure future reliability."

Service

"All in all the changes mean the council will be able to save a million pounds that would otherwise have to pay for landfill tax and other penalties"

Cllr Edward Giles, Isle of Wight council

The Isle of Wight council hopes that by altering its collection service, it could save around £900,000 over the course of the remaining contract with Island Waste Services, which is set to terminate in October 2015.

Island Waste Services is a subsidiary of Biffa and was first awarded the Isle of Wight contract in 1997 before receiving a contract extension in 2000.

Under the changes to the service, the council will continue to operate a weekly food waste collection but intends to replace its single “small bucket” use for collection with two caddies, one for the kitchen and one to be placed at the kerbside.

In addition, the council, despite some trepidation from residents in the consultation, aims to replace the existing 55 litre black box for commingled dry recycling with a 240 litre wheeled bin. Residents had voiced concern about where a bin would be stored but 64% said alternative arrangements set out by the council would be welcomed.

With regards to the material collected, Isle of Wight council intends to remove textiles from the collections but retain paper and glass bottles and jars. And, residents will also be able to recycle Tetra Paks, all types of plastic, cans and all types of card.

Meanwhile, the collection of residual waste will move from weekly to fortnightly, with residents still expected to use their own bin or bag for presenting the material at the kerbside.

Changes to the waste and recycling service are set to be introduced from February 1 2012.

Changes

After the cabinet meeting, Cllr Edward Giles, council cabinet member responsible for waste collections said: "The new arrangements will help drive up recycling and drive down landfill. All in all it means the council will be able to save a million pounds that would otherwise have to pay for landfill tax and other penalties."

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Isle of Wight council

Cllr Giles pointed to the support from residents over proposals to change the service, which saw 66% of the 814 consultation respondents said they would support the council altering the existing operations. This was coupled with strong support for a wider range of material to be collected at the kerbside.

"The response to the consultation was heartening in many respects. There was a clear message that residents believed we should do more to help them recycle and these proposals do that in a sensible way. Not only does the new system avoid the need for numerous receptacles, the proposals also retain the weekly collections of food waste,” he said.

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