An ‘iconic’ landfill site near Birmingham finally closed its gates yesterday (February 24) after almost 50 years in operation.
The Packington landfill site, which is located opposite the NEC and run by SITA UK, has received an estimated 35 million tonnes of waste since it first opened.
At the height of its use in the 1980s, over 2,000 lorries delivered waste to the site from households and businesses in and around the city.
Packington was also the first site in the UK to produce electricity from landfill gas, which has been generated for the last 25 years.
Its closure marks an increasing trend to move away from landfill in favour of processes which put residual waste to better use.
SITA UK now sends much of the waste that was originally destined to Packington to facilities at Malpass Farm in Rugby and Landor Street in Birmingham, where it is converted into refuse derived fuel for use in the manufacturing of cement products.
The firm also introduced a composting operation at Packington in 2004, with around 50,000 tonnes of green waste treated each year. The site has also been used to process around 70,000 tonnes of waste wood per year since 2008.
Restoration work will now begin at the capped landfill, with SITA envisaging woodland areas and public footpaths for local residents. When completed, the proposed HS2 rail line will also pass close by to the site.
Some restoration at the site has already been completed, but a further 400,000 tonnes of soil and compost is needed to finish the project.
The closure was marked with an open day for past and present employees at Packington yesterday, with SITA UK general manager for landfill Geriant Rees commenting on the site’s ‘renowned’ position within the waste industry.
Mr Rees said the “Packington is somewhat renowned throughout the waste industry. It was once the busiest site in Europe, but it also had the reputation for leading the way in landfill technology.
“It was the first site in the country to produce electricity from landfill gas – it has been producing enough renewable energy to power an area the equivalent of nearby Coleshill for the last 25 years, and is likely to continue doing so for another 20 years.
“It has also led the way in introducing high-tech solutions to make sure the pollutants caused by decaying waste are effectively contained, collected and treated – so they don’t cause harm to local people or wildlife. This has included a new leachate treatment plant, which opened on site last year.”