Waste deal to slash landfill by 80%

Cumbria County Council has put pen to paper on a £700m deal it says will see the amount of rubbish sent to landfill reduced by 80%.

The 25-year agreement between Cumbria and waste management company Shanks Group will see much of the county’s waste sent to mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plants in Hespin Wood near Carlisle and Barrow.

The MBT process allows waste to be shredded, dried and transformed into solid recovered fuel which can be burned to provide an alternative source of energy to fossil fuels.

A planning application for an MBT plant at Hespin Wood was approved in April and a site for the Barrow plant has been identified at the north end of the town.

The MBT plants, neither of which has been built yet, use sustainable waste technology and the deal with Shanks means the amount of waste sent to landfill will fall by 80%.

Opting for the MBT waste disposal system will also save the council having to pay out millions of pounds in fines.

All councils have been tasked with finding alternatives to landfill otherwise they face Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) fines.

Estimates indicated Cumbria could face costs of £1.9m for 2011/12 and £3.3m for 2012/2013, rising to £5.2m in the following years if land filling at the current rate continues.

Stewart Young, leader of the council, said: “This contract will truly revolutionise waste disposal in Cumbria by massively reducing the amount of rubbish sent to landfill and providing the county with a cost-effective system for dealing with waste for many years to come.”

Each year the council deals with around 300,000 tonnes of waste, when the MBT plants are in operation they will process approximately 120,000 tonnes annually, with 150,000 tonnes being recycled and the remaining 30,000 tonnes going to landfill as it can’t be recycled or dealt with by the MBT process.

While the two plants are set to process 120,000 tonnes a year, they have a capacity of 150,000 tonnes -a factor which takes into account future population growth during the term of the contract.

Luke Walsh

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