What happens to your waste?
Much of what we consider as waste can often be recycled, composted or reused in some other.
Unfortunately there are still many items and materials that have no further economic or practical use. These truly are ‘waste’ and the term used for these items is residual waste – but what happens to these things?
- Transfer Station
- Energy from Waste
- Landfill Site
- Household Reuse and Recycling Centres
Your local council collects your rubbish, usually in a black sack or a wheeled bin. They then deliver what they have collected to one of the two rail transfer stations; one is located in South Ruislip, the other is in Brentford.
At the transfer station the waste is tipped from the refuse truck. It is then packed and loaded into sealed containers. Each container holds about 12 tonnes of waste. These containers are then loaded on to railway wagons. There is enough room on the railway wagons for 78 full containers – creating a train the length of 26 rail carriages.
Not long ago there was so much waste 11 trains of waste left the sites each week. Now, thanks to you recycling, composting and reducing waste, this has been reduced to 5 trains per week and is still falling.
- Brent waste transfer station
- Victoria Road waste transfer station
- Transport Avenue waste transfer station
Around 96% of west London’s rubbish is sent to generate energy at two Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs).
Most is sent to the Severnside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC) located beside the river Severn just north of Bristol. The facility is part of the Authority’s Residual Waste Services Public Private Partnership Contract with SUEZ UK Limited. The facility is able to treat 400,000 tonnes of rubbish and has its own bottom ash treatment plant to turn the ash into an aggregate with a recognised end product status for use in construction projects.
The other facility is located close to Heathrow Airport and is run by a company called Lakeside Energy from Waste Ltd. Our arrangement is with one of the co-owners of the Lakeside facility, Viridor Waste Management.
Energy from Waste facilities offer a modern treatment process that means your waste is used to generate energy in the form of both heat and power (electricity). This waste is used instead of coal, oil or gas to produce energy.
There are some large or hazardous items such as asbestos that are not suitable for energy recovery. These will be sent to landfill if there aren’t any ways to reduce, re-use or recycle them.
There is also a road transfer station located in Brent, north west London. This site deals with other types of waste including wood for energy recovery and a sorting process takes place here to ensure that we can recover any recyclable materials that may still be in the waste. Any waste that is left is taken in trailers by articulated lorries to one of the rail transfer stations to be sent to landfill.
As well as dealing with the residual waste collected from your door step we also manage the waste from the Household Reuse and Recycling Centres or HRRC’s (your council may use a different name for them, such as Civic Amenity Sites). In the West London area there are currently 7 HRRC’s, which are operated by your local council.
Most of the residual waste from the HRRC’s is taken by road to one of the rail transfer stations to be put on the train.
As well as residual waste we also arrange for the treatment of food and garden waste collected for composting. The treatment process used depends on the type of waste your council collects for composting.
Windrow Composting is the most basic of the processes that we use. It’s the method generally used to compost garden waste. The garden waste is put in to long heaps called Windrows. It is turned frequently until it breaks down naturally to form a material that can be used to improve the soil. Depending upon conditions the total process takes around 12 weeks.
We have arrangements with a number of companies that provide facilities that compost your garden waste this way.
If your council collects organic kitchen (food) waste mixed in with your garden waste it is dealt with through In Vessel Composting (IVC). This process is carried out in covered tunnels where the composting process can be controlled to ensure all of the organic material properly breaks down, this material can be used as a compost. Our In-Vessel Composting is done by West London Composting, in Harefield and by Countrystyle Recycling Ltd for composting at their Ridham IVC plant in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Most of our councils collect organic kitchen waste on its own. This kitchen waste can be used to generate heat and power as well as producing a fertiliser for use by farmers. The process used is called Anaerobic Digestion (AD).
The kitchen waste is mixed to form a porridge-like material. This material is then heated and stirred in a large sealed airless container. The natural process that occurs produces methane and carbon dioxide gasses. These gasses are then used as a fuel to generate heat and power. The liquid that remains at the end of the process is called digestate and is used as a fertiliser. At the moment all of our AD is undertaken by BiogenGreenfinch at their plants to the north of London.