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Residual Waste Treatment

The Partner Boroughs currently have an average recycling and composting rate of 40%.  The target for 2020 is to have improved that average recycling and composting rate across the four boroughs to 50%.

In the future, all of our residual waste will require some form of treatment prior to disposal.

But even if this ambitious target is achieved, the Partnership will still be left with almost 170,000 tonnes of residual waste every year that has not been sorted or placed out for recycling or composting by residents.  Simply sending this residual waste to landfill will not be an option, so all of this waste will require some form of treatment and/or disposal.

Currently a relatively small amount of this residual waste (approximately 27,000 tonnes each year) is sent to an energy recovery facility near Slough in Berkshire.  This facility produces electricity from the treatment process, prevents the waste from ending up in landfill sites and allows the four Partner Boroughs to meet their landfill reduction targets in the short-term.

But most of this residual waste (approximately 172,000 tonnes every year) currently ends up being buried in a landfill site at Beddington Lane which is located in the borough of Sutton near the border with Croydon.  This 92-hectare site receives about 375,000 tonnes of domestic and commercial waste each year.

Recent investment made by the site’s operator, Viridor, means that it is one of the most technically-advanced landfill sites in the country.   The gases that are let off by the biodegradable element of the waste as it decomposes underground are captured, fed into an on-site power plant which in turn feeds the National Grid.

Whilst this reduces the impact that landfill waste has on the environment, the Partnership must find more sustainable ways of dealing with household waste for the following three reasons:

  1. No matter how much you do to reduce the environmental impact of landfill waste, reducing, reusing, recycling and extracting energy from waste are always going to be more sustainable options for the environment
  2. If we continued to use the landfill site at Beddington Lane it would be full by 2020 and suitable locations for new landfill sites are almost impossible to find
  3. The cost of sending waste to landfill has rocketed in recent years and is now a prohibitively expensive option for councils.

It is for these reasons that the Partnership has awarded a major contract to Viridor that will see almost all of the residual household waste (i.e. waste that has not been sorted by residents for recycling or composting) collected by the four Partner Boroughs treated in a new state-of-the art Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) instead of being buried in the ground. Further details are available on our Beddington ERF page.