Operations have begun at an energy from waste plant designed to treat up to 214,000 tonnes of household waste generated in Leeds each year.
Following a thorough testing phase, construction contractors have completed and handed over the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility to the city council three months ahead of schedule.
The facility, which is operated by Veolia on the Green Cross Industrial Estate, began accepting deliveries of household residual waste last year – and will now handle all of the refuse produced by residents in Leeds.
The EfW plant has been commissioned as part of a £460 million, 25-year PFI deal between Leeds city council and Veolia, signed in 2012 (see letsrecycle.com story). It is expected to process around 4 million tonnes of waste over its lifetime.
It is also forecast to recover around 16,000 tonnes of recyclable material from Leeds’ household black bin bags, which will be removed using specialist machinery.
Leeds had previously relied on landfill to dispose of the estimated 170,000 tonnes of residual waste generated each year, at an estimated cost of around £15 million per year. In November 2015, documents revealed concerns raised by council chiefs that plans to expand recycling services in the city had been “inhibited” by financial pressures and central government funding cuts (see letsrecycle.com story).
The PFI contract is expected to save around £200 million over 25 years compared to the cost of landfill. The plant will also export power to the National Grid, while additional equipment has been installed as part of a planned future district heating network.
Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said: “It’s testament to the sheer hard graft of everyone involved that the new facility is not only up and running, but operational changes for bin collections have been seamless with limited impact on residents.
“We wanted to ensure that we had a sustainable solution for Leeds’ waste that would limit our impact on the environment while offering us financial savings. The recycling and energy recovery facility gives us just that.”
Paul Fowler, general manager at Veolia, added: “The RERF is a major change, allowing the council to move away from a reliance on landfill. As well as working in partnership with the council and managing the facility throughout its operational life, Veolia look forward both to the continued liaison with the local community and any future opportunities to contribute to further environmental improvements.”