Region of waste transformation

When considering different waste disposal options industry is urged not to mention the 'L' word. Landfill is rapidly becoming an unattractive prospect, especially with new legislation making it a less cost-effective and more difficult route.

However, some industrial waste still ends up at landfill, perhaps because resources are not readily available to determine the other alternatives. Step forward the £2M Transformation of Waste Products (TW2P) project in the north west of England.

Envirolink Northwest, a cluster group for environmental technology in the north west of England, is managing TW2P, while the chemical engineering department of UMIST has been selected to carry out the technical operations. Work is funded by the Northwest Development Agency.

Over a three-year period the project will analyse waste sent to landfill, demonstrating that with the application of technology it can be converted into a useful resource. The analysis will develop a methodology to help industrial waste producers narrow down their options, and looking to see whether something tangible can

be extracted from the waste and either recycled or added to other materials.

Three sectors identified as heavy waste producers – food, paper and chemicals – will be evaluated. Consultant companies ADAS, ENTEC and Enviros respectively, have been appointed to each sector. In addition, three post-graduate students will be involved in the project, appointed by UMIST.

Regional solutions

Project director, Ron Cockayne, is still seeking representative host companies. “We are looking at all the different types of waste produced to see where the biggest problems are,” he says. Although several companies have already volunteered, Ron requires others that meet the criteria. Those finally selected will cover the whole north-west region, from Cumbria to Cheshire, and will be able to demonstrate a wide variety of waste problems.

TW2P aims to produce worthwhile and cost-effective alternative disposal routes. Effective treatments and processes are often left redundant due to the logistics of transporting waste. For this reason, the project is looking for regional solutions to these problems. “We have to show that what we hope to produce is viable,” confirms Ron, which is why a team of analysts will continually assess the project.

Refining technology

The main objective is to reduce the amount of industrial waste ending up at landfill sites, thus reducing landfill footprint in the north-west. The team will find new uses for existing technology, which will help to develop the environmental technology and services (ETS) market. “There may even be new technology developed as a result,” adds Ron. TW2P will also aim to apply its findings

to other waste-producing industry sectors.

The issue of waste disposal is not one that will go away overnight, but by example, Envirolink and UMIST are demonstrating how it can be tackled on a regional basis. This type of collaboration could also help to boost the ETS sector nationwide.

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