London boroughs hail MBT facility

A major new facility set up to treat household waste has been heralded by London's local authorities as a demonstration of their commitment to new technologies in the fight to cope with the capital's waste.

The mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plant at the city’s Frog Island opened on Thursday, April 19 and will process 180,000 tonnes of waste a year from the boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham and Redbridge.

The process used will be able to extract further recyclable materials from municipal waste collected by the boroughs, before then producing fuel from the remaining waste.

This will count towards recycling rates in the east of London, helping boroughs avoid sending waste to landfill in accordance with EU targets.

As a technology, MBT is championed by many environmental groups but has historically proved an expensive waste processing solution when employed on a large scale.

The successful delivery of a scheme of this size could spark renewed interest in the technology in council chambers up and down the land as authorities consider how they are going to meet their landfill diversion targets.

It will also be used to fuel many boroughs’ resistance to the idea of a city-wide waste authority governed from City Hall.

“The opening of Frog Island marks another major stride by the capital’s boroughs in managing London’s waste,” said Cllr Merrick Cockell, chairman of London Councils.

“It adds to an ever-growing and irrefutable body of evidence that proves London boroughs’ continuing commitment and ability to rise to the twin challenges of recycling and diverting waste from landfill,” he claimed.

“New projects like this one prove that boroughs are up to this challenge, and it is their understanding of local need and capacity that will win the battle of London’s waste management.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor accepted that the faciltiy was good for the city but was less convinced it provided ammunition for those arguing against a single waste authority.

“The waste plant in Frog Island is a good development for London and we need many more of them. However this demonstrates precisely why we need a Single Waste Authority in London,” she said.

“It has taken almost 10 years from developing a strategy through to actually delivering this plant. I am extremely concerned that there are many boroughs in London who are many years away from developing these types of facilities.

“Progress by the boroughs is simply not quick enough in order to respond to London’s recycling needs and we do not have time to waste because of impending landfill fines.

“The approach of many boroughs is to let other areas take care of their waste problems, be it in other parts of London or in surrounding regions.

“Without a Single Waste Disposal Authority and a strategic response to waste planning there is a real danger that boroughs will continue to dump their problems on East London and the surrounding regions.”

Sam Bond

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