How does our Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility work?
Our Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility is designed to remove and sort recyclables before the combustion process. This state-of-the-art technology is a safe and efficient way of treating residual black bin waste.
The plant helps to increase recycling rates and to generate energy. It will also significantly reduce the amount of waste the city sends to landfill.
In the Mechanical Pre-Treatment (MPT) process the black bin rubbish collected from the city and delivered to the facility is shredded and then sorted to extract recyclable material that has been placed in the black bin.
Using different types of automated technology, the RERF extracts plastics, paper/ cardboard, ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as food and drink cans. These materials are then sent to reprocessors where they can be made into new products.
This plant can take out up to 20% of the waste for recycling, contributing towards achieving Leeds ambitious recycling targets.
As the operation of the facility develops, it may be possible to separate other recyclates, further improving the overall recycling rate.
The Energy Recovery Process
The Energy Recovery Facility operates 24/7 and operates well within the UK and EU standards for emissions to atmosphere.
When all the recyclables have been removed the remaining waste is burnt in carefully controlled conditions. The heat from the combustion process is used to turn water into steam. The steam then power a turbine to generate around 13MW of electricity for export to the National Grid. This is enough to power in the region of 22,000 homes.
The Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility has the flexibility to generate thermal energy which could be used to heat buildings and offices locally.
The water used in the process is recycled.
The ash (known as Incinerator Bottom Ash) that comes out of the end of the process, which can contain gravel-like remnants of glass, brick, stone, concrete and ceramics, are recycled into construction aggregate, which replaces quarried material in the production of asphalt and cement.
Air pollution control
The gases from the boiler will be extensively cleaned. This will include neutralising any acid gases, removing pollutants with ‘activated carbon’ and capturing fine particles with a fabric filter. The gas treatment residues are kept in enclosed storage on site and then disposed of safely at a licensed facility.