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What happens to our waste and where does it go?


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.

Household Reuse and Recycling Centres

As well as dealing with the residual waste collected from your doorstep, we also manage the waste from Household Reuse and Recycling Centres or HRRCs (your council may use a different name for them, such as Civic Amenity Sites). In the West London area there are currently 5 HRRCs, which are operated by Ealing, Harrow, Hounslow, Hillingdon & Richmond upon Thames. Abbey Road Household Reuse & Recycling Centre is the only site run by West London Waste Authority on behalf of Brent Council.

Most of the residual waste from the HRRCs is taken by road to one of the rail transfer stations to be put on the train.

Transfer Station

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 that 11 trains of waste left the sites each week. Now, thanks to you reducing waste, reusing materials, and recycling, this has been reduced to 5 trains per week and is still falling.

Food and Garden Waste

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. Food waste is treated by Anaerobic Digestion and Garden Waste is treated through In-Vessel Composting.

Windrow 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.

In-Vessel Composting

WLC cooling vessel in action - roof liftingIf 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.

Anaerobic Digestion

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 gases which is 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 BioCollectors at their plant in south London.


The electrical items collected in West London are sent for recycling at a specialist facility in Kent. The electricals are broken down and the components are all separated. Everything gets recycled from the wires to the lights and everything in between.


West London Waste Authority partnered with TRAID to offer free textile home collections for West London residents. TRAID operates over 1000 textile recycling banks across the UK and has stores across the capital.TRAID collects the clothing and shoes donated by the public from home collections & recycling banks, and then bring the textiles to a warehouse in Wembley where it is hand sorted. Sorted clothing is then sold back to the public in one of TRAID’s 11 charity shops. The money raised by TRAID through its clothes reuse and environmental activities is used to expand TRAID’s recycling activities, educate the UK public and are donated to international development projects.

Energy from Waste

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.

Since 14 December 2016, 96% of the non-recycled waste put out by residents in the London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames is being used to generate energy. Whether it’s put out for collection by the local council in black sacks, grey wheeled bins or black wheeled bins your rubbish will no longer head to a hole in the ground, instead most of it will be transported by train to the new Severnside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC). The 400,000 tonnes per year capacity plant produces 34 megawatts, or enough electricity to power the equivalent of 50,000 homes.

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