Commitment to recycling
Peterborough is a leading recycler among local authorities and aims to be the environment capital in the UK. We are proud of our residents and their commitment to recycling, who achieved over 50% recycling rate in 2013/2014, so thank you to all.
The 65% plus initiative reflects our commitment to recycle, compost or recover more than 65% of discarded household and garden materials and to use the remaining materials as a fuel to generate electricity and heat for local use.
Reaching our targets
Widespread public consultation, beginning in 2001, has involved Peterborough residents in choosing the best options for achieving future recycling and waste disposal targets. The main priorities that emerged from this extensive consultation were to:
- reduce pollution as much as possible
- reduce waste for landfill
- generate electricity from waste
- reduce climate change as much as possible.
As a part of implementing our Waste 2020 strategy, we are investing in facilities that will help residents re-use and recycle more than 65% of discarded household and garden materials, as well as providing a long-term, sustainable alternative to landfill.
Achieving our targets
We can achieve in excess of 65% recycling by continuing to work together with our local residents. We are already committed to providing services to help residents recycle as much as possible, such as the collection and recycling of paper, card, plastics, cans, aluminium foil and glass through green bins, separating food waste from the black general waste bins. We also offer an opt-in chargeable collection of garden waste for composting.
Investment in new facilities is critical for success and we have introduced:
- Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment facility
- Collection and treatment of household food waste.
Even with recycling levels at 65%, there will still be about one third of our waste that cannot be recycled. We plan to use this residual waste in an energy from waste facility to generate renewable energy.
An important way to tackle waste problems is to reduce the amount of material we throw away. We promote the ‘reduce and re-use’ philosophy while increasing opportunities for residents to recycle materials. For example, many people are opting for re-usable shopping bags rather than single-use, disposable plastic bags.
Wasting food costs the average household £480 a year, rising to £680 for a family with children, the equivalent of around £50 a month.
Energy from waste facility
Energy recovery, also known as Energy from Waste, is a proven, reliable technology that has been used for many years by some of the most environmentally-aware countries in Europe such as Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
In 2007, our Members' Waste and Recycling Group recommended energy from waste as the best practical environmental option for treating Peterborough’s residual waste - the materials that can’t be reused or recycled.
In 2013, we appointed Viridor to build a state-of-the-art energy from waste facility in Fengate to manage the city’s residual waste.
Officially opened in March 2016, the facility:
- uses the latest technology, making it the most efficient of it kind in the country
- can process up to 85,000 tonnes of waste per year, which includes additional capacity to cope with Peterborough's predicted growth
- meets the highest safety and emissions standards
- has the potential to produce renewable electricity equivalent to the amount required to power around 15% of Peterborough homes
- produces heat that can also be captured and used locally
- enables Peterborough to deal with its own waste locally and save money in the process (in 2015 burying the city's waste cost around £4 million).
The Energy from Waste facility makes the era of landfills virtually a thing of the past by reducing the volume of our residual waste by 94%. Even the end product from the process is used as an alternative to aggregate in road building.
How energy from waste and recycling works
Energy from waste takes residual household waste and burns it at very high temperatures (exceeding 850°C) in a combustion chamber under controlled conditions.
The heat is captured and used to produce steam, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition, heat in the form of hot water and/or steam can be supplied to heat buildings or for use in manufacturing processes. This combined heat and power facility is the most efficient form of energy from waste.
Benefits to the environment
Modern facilities are much more than just an incinerator. As well as the electricity generating equipment, around two thirds of a facility is dedicated to monitoring and emissions control. This equipment treats the exhaust gases to neutralise acidity and pollutants, while sophisticated filters remove more than 99% of particulates.
The by-products from the energy from waste process, chiefly clinker and fly ash, can often be recycled for other uses.
Energy from waste safety
Under European Union legislation, energy from waste facilities are strictly controlled. Regular testing of temperature, steam pressure, and flow ensures that the facility is operating properly. All modern facilities are equipped with sophisticated computer-controlled monitoring equipment that constantly checks operating conditions and emissions levels.
In addition, energy from waste facilities can only be operated under a special permit and any breach of the licensing conditions can result in immediate closure of the facility. Energy from waste facilities in the UK are independently monitored and regulated by the Environment Agency.
Energy from waste and recycling
Energy from waste facilities do not discourage recycling, especially when the facility is correctly scaled to the needs of the local community, as is the case in Peterborough. When used as part of an integrated waste management strategy, an energy from waste facility can have a positive impact on waste management and recycling rates.
More than 300 facilities are already operating across Europe and an estimated 20% of UK local authorities, including Devon, Cornwall, Suffolk and Lincolnshire have energy from waste schemes in place.
Countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands achieve some of the highest recycling rates in the world in combination with energy from waste facilities, proving that using this technology does not detract from recycling rates.
We are working with Amey to encourage everyone to ‘reduce, re-use and recycle’ as much of their waste as possible. Inevitably there is waste that cannot be recycled, which has historically been sent to landfill.
Peterborough currently produces around 90,000 tonnes of waste per year, around 50% of which is currently recycled. Our goal is to achieve in excess of 65% recycling by 2020, including all dry recycling, garden waste and unwanted food waste.
What we do with the rest of our rubbish
With landfills virtually full and the cost per tonne increasing dramatically (costs increased ten-fold between 1997 and 2015 to almost £100 per tonne), we have sought a more environmentally friendly, lower-cost approach to managing the city’s residual waste.
We signed contracts with Viridor to build a new Energy from Waste Facility which turns our black bin waste to ash, reducing its weight by around 94% and turns the heat generated by the process into renewable electricity. The facility began treating waste in December 2015.