Well if like me you thought that all kerbside collected rubbish ended up in the landfill, you would be wrong. Local authorities are under increasing pressure to reduce the amount going to landfill and associated costs; finding alternative and innovative ways to reduce the amount being sent is critical.
In Leicestershire all of the collected kerbside rubbish goes off to a Mechanical Biological Treatment plant (MBT) in Cotesbach as a ‘last chance cafe’ to recycle any valuable resources before it heads off to the landfill and I was lucky enough to go and have a tour.
‘The principle aims of New Earth’s technology is to extract recyclable materials where they exist….diverting waste away from landfill and reducing exposure to landfill tax.’
I passed the first test by reversing into a car parking space and that set the tone for the tour, Health and Safety is very important to the company and they manage it with an obsession. We were duly given the Health and Safety briefing and kitted out with a high-viz jacket, hard hat, goggles, mask and gloves.
Our first stop was to see the Delivery area where all the waste is deposited first. Any oversized items are removed and bags are split and waste spread out. The size of space was amazing with the set up sorting through a tonne of rubbish every couple of hours. The waste is then lifted onto a vibrating plate and Sorting takes place.
The vibrating plate…vibrates, funnily enough, and sorts the waste by size. The smaller bio-mass rich particles go into the Bio-Stabilisation Halls and the other materials travel on into the another sorting area for more separation.
The recyclable metal and plastic materials are separated from the rest of the waste using various methods including a drum separator and magnets, again on a massive scale.
Once all the ‘recyclabubble ‘ material has been removed the remaining waste still doesn’t go off to landfill: it is suitable for use as fuel. Not any old fuel though.
‘Currently the fuel is transported to Europe for use in high efficiency Combined Heat and Power Plants’
‘New Earth is looking at building its own energy recovery plant in Avonmouth, Bristol’
As previously mentioned in the Sorting stage, all the bio-mass rich particles are sent to the Bio–Stabilisation Halls to be ‘composted’ down.
The Bio-rich particles or ‘fines’ as they are known are stored in long heaps in ‘ma-hou-sive’ enclosed halls allowing the compost to reach its optimal condition. They are kept in here for about 6 weeks and the heaps are turned regularly to help the compost decompose equally.
‘Ma-hou-sive’ turning machines are used daily to turn all the heaps over.
This compostable material cannot be used anywhere other than as a soil conditioner on brownfield sites, once it has been screened and reaches all the legal requirements.
‘Animal By-Product Regulations’ – In order to meet ABPR requirements the material must reach a temperature of at least 60 degrees C for a minimum of 16 days while being turned every 48 hours. This is monitored by electronic probes inserted along the length of the heaps, sending data back to the automated control system’
This is the end result of the composting stage, looks like normal compost to me!
My Learning Outcomes:
- Who knew so much went on behind the scenes once my kerbside rubbish has been collected
- The whole set up at New Earth was clean, tidy and didn’t smell. Not what I was expecting at all.
- The company tries to maintain the status quo within the location in terms of smells, environment and pests.
- I didn’t see any rats whilst I was there (a bonus!)
- Flies and maggots are sprayed frequently to keep them down
- A fascinating visit that lasted over 2 hours and could have gone on longer
- All this takes place to recycle and reuse as much material as possible before the final drudge is sent to landfill.
#waste #wastemanagement #recycle #newearthsolutions #biomass #biostabilisation #MBT #reduce #reuse #landfill