9 December 2020 by James Langley

Veolia hopes to take healthcare waste at Sheffield EfW

Veolia has applied to vary the permit for its energy from waste (EfW) plant in Sheffield to allow it to accept a maximum of 10,000 tonnes a year of orange bagged healthcare waste.

The Sheffield Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) currently accepts 225,000 tonnes of waste per year. Veolia says there will be no change to the maximum throughput of waste accepted by the EfW plant.

Veolia’s Sheffield ERF generates electricity for the National Grid and heat for the city’s District Energy Network

A non-technical summary submitted with Veolia’s application reads: “Treating orange bagged waste will require minimal changes to the ERF itself in terms of equipment and infrastructure with the exception of the addition of a hoist system to take the waste directly to the furnace feed hopper.

“However, it will require the plant to be permitted for hazardous waste incineration activities.”

Veolia proposed that a 10,000 tonnes per annum clinical waste transfer station should be located at the site. This would accept healthcare waste produced by NHS Trusts and other smaller healthcare practices, such as doctor’s surgeries or dental practices from Sheffield and surrounding region.

Currently, Veolia says, waste from sources such as these must travel far for destruction or disposal as there are only few clinical waste transfer and treatment facilities within 50 miles of the site. The waste management company estimates that up to 90% of the waste collected from healthcare practices would be suitable for incineration at the EfW plant.

Healthcare waste

Orange bagged waste includes contaminated swabs, gloves, paper towels, dressings, aprons and masks. The orange bags are intended for clinical waste which requires a heat treatment prior to incineration and disposal, unlike yellow bag waste, which just needs to be incinerated.

Veolia claimed in July that EfW was the best disposal option for orange bagged healthcare waste (see letsrecycle.com story). It said clinical and infectious waste could be safely and compliantly destroyed using ERFs.

Veolia operates 10 EfW plants across the UK, which generate around 1.4TWh of electricity through the treatment of non-recyclable waste. It uses EfW to treat clinical waste at two plants: the Tyseley ERF and the Staffordshire ERF. It disposes of more than 61,000 tonnes of orange bagged clinical and infectious waste through EfW each year.

The Environment Agency approved Veolia’s application to alter its environmental permit to allow the processing of healthcare orange bagged waste at its plant at Tyseley, Birmingham, in June (see letsrecycle.com story).

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