9 August 2012

Sterecycle agrees odour plan for Rotherham plant

By Steve Eminton

An odour management programme has been agreed with the Environment Agency by waste treatment and recycling firm Sterecycle after problems at its Rotherham autoclave facility.

The programme will see a number of measures adopted by the Canadian-owned firm at its waste treatment plant which has also recently seen completion of a materials recycling facility. Capacity of the plant using autoclaves has been increased from 100,000 tonnes per annum to 175,000 tonnes.

Sterecycle's recently-opened materials recycling facility

Sterecycle’s recently-opened materials recycling facility

The odour management programme comes after the Environment Agency expressed concern about the amount of time its officers have had to spend dealing with odour issues at the plant.

Joanne Holt, environment management team leader for the Environment Agency, said: We have received odour complaints about Sterecycle from residents and local businesses and are committed to improving the odour problems. The time spent on regulating the site is very intensive for our officers and resolving the issue is one of our highest priorities.

And, Ms Holt also commented on recent odour complaints. She said: We have attended a residents meeting to hear feedback, and are currently investigating and cannot comment further at this stage.

The local authority, Rotherham metropolitan borough council, said: We have discussed the odour problems with the Environment Agency. We have regular operational meetings with Sterecycle and our concerns have been made known to them.


Tom Shields, chief executive of Sterecycle, speaking from its head office in London, told letsrecycle.com that he hoped the companys new odour management programme would resolve the difficulties.

He acknowledged that there had been problems at the plant itself and also from Sterefibre, a production material used for soil conditioning which had been placed at a storage site near to the autoclave facility and is now being depleted.

Mr Shields said: We have developed an odour abatement programme which we have worked on with the EA. This includes fitting some further controlled evacuation, increasing the air change by three times. We are going to put air curtains in additional to the doors to help control air movement when vehicles deliver waste.



“We have developed an odour abatement programme which we have worked on with the EA”

Tom Shields, Sterecycle

The chief executive explained that the technology to be used will see air scrubbed rather than being passed through biological filters, with the air ejected at high level through stacks 24 metres high. Current work includes deodorising and monitoring.

The orders for the new odour control equipment are currently being placed, said Mr Shields, and permission has been given for it to be installed on a trial basis for several months.


Sterecycle has increased its waste handling capacity at Rotherham to handle kerbside collected materials with the development of a MRF in front of the autoclave. This has a range of equipment including near infra-red sorters with 90% of the work done automatically with some manual sorting to bring purity up to 90-95%.

Mr Shields said that the company had already been taking some recyclables out after the autoclave process, which were mainly metals.

The autoclave takes in residual waste and produces what the chief executive termed as a very successful growing biomass for fuel crop uses on poor soil including miscanthus. He noted: We dont need to windrow it. You can pile it up to 3-4m high and then after 3-4 weeks we have a stable product which we can use as the conditioner.

It is understood that the material is given away without a charge and the company funds the transport although Sterecycle hopes to achieve more uses for it with use in horticulture as a peat substitute a possibility.

Sterecycle has over the past few months been working towards raising additional finance in Canada and the process is ongoing and it is currently about one month away from a public listing. Mr Shields explained that the reason for seeking finance in Canada is that sentiment there towards renewables is very strong and we have investment from Canada already.

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The company has a range of expertise in the UK including Andy Hinton, a non-executive director of WRAP and one of its longest-serving board members. It is understood to be considering expansion within the UK to potential sites in south London, Harlow and Cardiff.

  • In January 2011, a man died after a cylinder exploded at the Rotherham plant (see letsrecycle.com story).The investigation by South Yorkshire Police is ongoing.

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