Waste to energy plant in UK opened by British royalty

October 10, 2014 0 By Amanda Giasson

The Duke of Kent has officially opened a new W2E facility that turns trash into energy.

The Queen’s cousin, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, recently visited SITA UK’s factory at Billingham, located near Stockton, to mark the construction of the waste to energy (W2E) facility.

The new plant will help manage trash from Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside.

SITA UK, the recycling and resource management company, a subsidiary of Suez Environment, developed the plant on behalf of the South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership. This partnership includes the councils of Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead. After the three councils came together, deciding that they needed to find a better way to deal with their waste, the company was given a £727million contract.

“Thanks to these new facilities, we are proud to be able to say that we now divert over 95 per cent of our waste away from landfill and, instead, put it to good use – either by recycling it into new products and compost or treating it to produce electricity,” said the chairman of the South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership’s Joint Executive Committee, Councilor Peter Mole MBE. He added that even the ash that results from burning trash is recycled and made into building materials.

Not everyone was in support of the waste to energy plans.

Waste to energy - The Duke of KentWhen the plans to build the facility were first discussed, it was opposed by Tory and independent councilors, some of whom preferred an alternative recycling system and autoclaving, a steam-cleaning treatment. Furthermore, some residents in the area were worried about the impact heavy waste vehicles would have passing through their neighborhoods. Also, those who were concerned about the decision to transport waste all the way down to Teesside, questioned the environment impact this would have and how cost-effective such an operation would be.

Regardless of the opposition, the three councils voted the plans through and construction of the new facility in Billingham, Teesside started in September 2011 and was completed in April of this year. During this time, many jobs were created. During the building period, 1,800 skilled professionals were hired and another 42 full-time permanent positions were created to operate the plant. In addition, to support the operation of three new waste transfer stations, 24 more jobs were created.

The waste to energy plant is expected to allow the three councils to reduce their reliance on landfills. The converted waste is anticipated to produce enough energy to power an estimated 30,000 homes.