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What happens to my waste in Wakefield?

24 October 2019

The Waste Treatment Facilities at South Kirkby ensure we increase recycling, reduce the amount of rubbish we send to landfill and help generate green sustainable energy.

Here is a brief description of each of the facilities:

HWRC or Household Waste Recycling Centre

These are for excess rubbish or items that would not normally be collected from your home.

The HWRC’s are located at South Kirkby, Glasshoughton and Wakefield. They accept materials which can’t be dealt with by the kerbside collection, as well as difficult or hazardous waste such as oil, tyres, fridges and electrical items. Renewi will continue to recycle these materials and explore new markets for items we can’t recycle at the moment.

MRF or Materials Recovery Facility

This is where we sort your mixed recyclables collected from your homes. Once we have separated and sorted each material it will be sent to reprocesses for recycling.

The Council asks residents to only place materials that we can currently recycle into the brown recycling bin. The sorting process uses both mechanical and manual methods to separate the materials so they can be sent for recycling and reprocessing.

Your rubbish first goes through an inspection where staff pick out items which shouldn’t be in there, including dirty nappies, knives, saws and sharp items. If an object is found, the plant stops so the sharp object can be removed from the conveyor belt. This is why it is really important you only put the items listed on your bin sticker in the brown recycling bin.

Glass is removed first and then the cardboard is removed by different screens.

Plastic bottles are then separated by optical sorters, which recognise the plastic from the rest of the rubbish. The bottles are then bailed and sent for recycling back into bottles or other recycled plastics.

Steel cans are removed using magnets. Aluminium cans, foil and aerosols are removed by intelligent equipment. These are also baled and sent to be recycled and may be turned into a new can, an aeroplane or a door handle.

Here’s some hints & tips to help you get it right.

  • Anything containing liquid or residues contaminates the other recycling, that is why it is important that you wash or rinse them out before putting them in the brown recycling bin.
  • Bottle and jar lids and plastic hand pumps are made from different grades of plastic so need to be removed and put in the recycling bin separately so they can be sorted according to their material.
  • Paper please don’t tear paper and cardboard up into small pieces as it can become stuck in the machinery – no smaller than the size of an envelope.
  • Cardboard if you put a cardboard box in the bin, please put them in flattened without anything inside. E.g. if it is a cardboard beer bottle box, put the bottles in the bin separate to the cardboard box. The machinery cannot pull the bottles from a box once it has been squashed in your bin. Please remove polystyrene.
  • Aluminum cans should be rinsed and put straight in the bin.
  • Food tins please put the removed lid inside the can and squash it slightly so it doesn’t get stuck in the machinery.
  • Plastic bottles please wash and put in the recycling bin.
  • Glass jars & bottles remove metal lids & put them in recycling bin separate so it will be sorted by the machinery as a metal.

Composting facility

This is where we compost your garden waste collected from your home and from the Household Waste Recycling Centres. In the future, it is anticipated that some of this compost will be made available to local residents for use in their gardens.

Garden waste is collected by the Council and delivered to the site. Once received on site, the garden waste is shredded and placed in the sealed building where it will undergo a two stage composting process that will result in a PAS100 standard compost.

Residual Waste Treatment Facility Receptions Hall

This is where we treat your rubbish collected from your home so it does not end up in landfill. The process will:

  • Remove any remaining recyclable materials from rubbish which will then be sent for recycling.
  • Create a product called Refuse Derived Fuel that will be used locally for the creation of green sustainable energy.
  • Create a product called Digestate that can be used to help restore poor soils and remediate land.

The Councils collected household and commercial rubbish is delivered to the reception hall and deposited into the floor. Once it has been checked, it is then loaded by loading shovels into a hopper. The building has an odour control system in place to reduce the impact of any odours from within the building on the outside environment. All waste activities take place inside the building. Your rubbish is then transferred to the next stage of the process via an enclosed conveyor system.

The Waste Treatment Plant

Your rubbish travels up a conveyor and is fed into an automated separation plant. This equipment extracts any metal and aluminium as well as any plastic bottles and glass from the rubbish enabling them to be sent for recycling. A high proportion of materials such as plastic film and some other lightweight plastics along with bits of paper and cardboard are separated to create Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF). This RDF is sent to SSE Ferrybridge as a fuel.

Following all the separation what we have left is the organic fraction which is loaded into an Autoclave (this is effectively a large pressure cooker) where the rubbish is sterilised, using steam and pressure, heavy glass and grit is then separated along with floating pieces of plastic. What is left then is liquidated.

Anaerobic Digestion Plant

The liquid waste is then pumped into a number of tanks and remains in these tanks for approximately 20 days. Bacteria eat the food in the Anaerobic Digestion tanks. This process generates methane gas which is collected and used to generate power for the facility. A small proportion of the electricity is and sent back to the National Grid, as we use most of it on the site.

After 20 days the liquid is passed through a filters. The solid part is separated from the water part and the solid is then sent for use on reclamation and remediation projects. The remaining water element is cleaned up and then sent into the foul sewer.

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5th June 2024