Landfill closures promote waste as resource

Waste management firm Viridor has hailed the closure of two landfill sites as the "end of an era" as non-recyclable waste is instead being transformed into energy.

After 35 years of service, the Ardingly landfill site in Oxfordshire will no longer be taking non-hazardous waste, while the Wangford landfill site in Suffolk will also close to all waste after 23 years of operation.

“Both Ardley and Wangford landfill sites have been an important part of the waste infrastructure in their regions for many years,” said Viridor’s area unit manager Henry Austin. “But it’s time to recognise that we should be looking at our non-recyclable waste as a resource that can be put to use.

“The closure of a landfill such as Ardley is an important milestone in the ongoing efforts to drive value from our waste hierarchy. Using residual waste to generate electricity is ensuring we’re maximising every available opportunity and will see counties like Oxfordshire further reduce its carbon footprint.”

In Oxfordshire, non-hazardous waste will now be taken into Viridor’s adjacent state-of-the-art Energy Recovery Facility. The £205m facility has the capacity to treat 300,000 tonnes of waste per year, sufficient to treat all of Oxfordshire’s residual municipal waste. The waste will be transformed into 26MW of electricity, generating enough electricity for about 38,000 homes.

Resource-efficient future

Meanwhile in Suffolk, the Wangford site closed to waste acceptance on 31 March and will now undergo a period of restoration which will be completed by the end of 2016. Waste will now be re-directed to nearby Masons landfill, also operated by Viridor.

A recent report by Defra revealed that the waste sector added £6.8bn in gross value to the economy in 2013 and supported 103,000 jobs.

Efficiency in the sector is improving, with Gross Value Added (GVA) per tonne of waste increasing by 33% since 2004. Resource efficiency could generate an extra £3.58bn for UK businesses by 2020, but the Defra report highlighted a number of key steps that must be taken to reach this potential. 

Waste as a resource: Five industry viewpoints

Luke Nicholls

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