VIDEO: Veolia’s first inner-city MBT facility set to open in 2012

London's first inner-city integrated waste management facility (IWMF) is on track to be fully operational by January 2012 - and could form the blueprint for other urban developments, it was announced yesterday (November 10).

The £60m Veolia Environmental Services facility off the Old Kent Road consists of a materials recycling facility (MRF), a mechanical biological treatment facility (MBT), a recycling and reuse centre and a visitor’s education centre.

When fully operational, the 14-acre site, built on behalf of Southwark Borough Council (SBC) and funded as part of a £665m PFI contract between Veolia and the council, will have the capacity to handle about 200,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year.

Construction work on the facility, which Veolia claims is the first of its kind in the UK, began in June last year. Built on a former gas works depot decontamination was completed in 2008 and the facility is on track to meet its target completion date of January 2012, said Veolia Southwark managing director Simon Bussell.

The MRF, which is now operational and processing some waste from the borough, is estimated to have the capacity to recycle 87,000 tonnes of waste a year. This is the second MRF unveiled by Veolia this week, which also opened a facility in Birmingham.

The MBT facility will be operational by January and will remove stray recyclables from black bin waste, before turning the remaining into a solid recovered fuel (SRF), while the recycling and refuse centre will accept co-mingled waste from residential properties.

The facility will also play a major role in SBC’s ambitious goal of increasing recycling in the borough by 40% by 2014 and it is thought will create up to 80 new jobs.

However, as a result of the site’s close proximity to residential properties, the IWMF is highly regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and has been designed using ‘negative pressure’ within the buildings to prevent odours from escaping.

According to Mr Bussell, an “important part of the facility is that we engage with the local community”, which he added had been largely supportive of the site.

Commenting on the benefits of the facility, SBC cllr Barrie Hargrove told edieWaste that “the general thinking is waste should be processed as near as possible from where it is created. This is good for local people to see where their waste is going”.

Additionally, he added this helps to cut down on vehicle movements, therefore reducing carbon emissions.

To support this engagement the site’s education centre will be running an interactive display, as well as working in partnership with the Science Museum to encourage local residents to recycle their waste and better understand how the recycling process works.

Speaking to edieWaste about the facility, Mr Bussell described the site as “quite an achievement in engineering terms and facility development”, adding that Veolia is keen to see waste as a “commodity” as it sells bales of recyclabes such as plastics, paper, metal to third parties.

In the future the facility is expected to have the capacity to process waste from other boroughs, as well as potentially taking commercial waste from local businesses in a bid to help firms save on landfill charges.

Mr Bussell said that he hoped the facility would serve as a model that could be used elsewhere, but that it would depend on individual local authorities.

Carys Matthews

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