Considered – A report by Michael Leah, Assistant Director Travel, Environmental and Countryside Access Services, NYCC updating the committee on the performance of the Allerton Waste Recovery Park.
Michael Leah introduced the report, the key points of which are as summarised below:
· The facility has been operational since 1 March 2018
· The site has a Mechanical Treatment plant, an Anaerobic Digester and an Energy from Waste facility
· The facility can receive up to 320,000 tonnes of residual household waste per annum from across North Yorkshire and York over a 25 year contract period
· An additional 50,000 tonnes of commercial waste per year is being taken from YorWaste. This will help ensure peak performance of the facility
· There have been some problems with the Mechanical Treatment plant, some of which are linked to the type of waste being processed
· The separation of recyclables from residual waste has been difficult at times and produced a low grade product for which there is little demand. Work is underway to improve the quality of the recovered recyclables and to find new markets for them
· The pandemic has impacted upon overall performance as staff have been obliged to self-isolate when they have tested positive
· There are always teething problems with a new facility and anything of this scale
· The Allerton Waste Recovery Park is in part an ‘energy from waste’ facility. The energy comes from bio-gas from anaerobic digester plant and electricity from the incineration of waste
· The plant has to shut down periodically to enable maintenance and safety checks to be carried out. When shut down, the waste is diverted to other sites and does not go to landfill
· The new, national waste management strategy that is due to be published in the next months will have an impact upon the type and amount of waste processed at the plant as the emphasis is upon reducing overall residual waste and maximising recycling at the kerb-side.
There followed a discussion, the key points of which are as summarised below:
· There is a risk that the collection and processing of waste is incentivised to enable the successful completion of the contract and the peak use of the plant, rather than focussing upon the reduction of waste and recycling generally
· The management of food waste is key. This involves work with households and food suppliers to reduce waste overall and then putting in place mechanisms to divert what is left from the residual waste system
· There is a need to ensure that the contract continues to deliver over its lifespan
· Modifying the behaviour of consumers and suppliers of food remains a big challenge
· The plant was controversial when first suggested and when the business case was being developed but it has since proved to be a great asset to the county.
County Councillor David Goode asked what the impact of the new national waste strategy would be upon the 25 year contract that had been entered into.
Peter Jeffreys, Waste and Countryside Services, said that there is a need to understand the impact of the new national strategy and its implications for how the plant works in the future.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley asked whether, when the plant is working at full capacity, all waste is diverted from landfill.
Peter Jeffreys replied that this was the case.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley queried whether the level of electricity generation from waste had yet achieved the target of 40,000 homes.
Peter Jeffreys that there were some minor build defects in the plant that Amey was resolving. Until this was done, the electricity generation would not reach its target.
County Councillor Andy Paraskos said that the national waste strategy would most likely focus upon reducing food waste and using the food waste that had been diverted from residual waste to generate bio-gas. This would then mean that more food waste was sent to the plant for processing. He asked whether the existing anaerobic digesters would have the capacity to absorb this.
Peter Jeffreys said that there was capacity to process 23,000 tonnes of food waste per annum and that this should be sufficient. The challenge will be making sure that the food waste is as clean as possible and sorted at the source. The residue left after the anaerobic digestion process would then be used as fertiliser, once it had been pasteurised.
County Councillor Stanley Lumley thanked Michael Leah and Peter Jeffreys for attending the meeting and summed up.
1) That an overview of the new, national waste strategy is provided to the 20 January 2022 meeting of the committee.