TV's Kate Humble Opens London's First Inner-City Recycling and Waste Facility

£60m facility operated in partnership with Southwark Council as part of 25-year contract

The new state-of-the-art Integrated Waste Management Facility on the former Old Kent Road gas works site is now handling all of Southwark’s recycling and household waste, typically 120,000 tonnes a year.

The facility contains London’s first inner-city Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant which is able to remove any stray recyclables from residents’ black bag waste and turn the remainder into solid recovered fuel for energy recovery, as opposed to going to landfill.

It also contains a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) that sorts all materials collected for recycling from Southwark households, allowing residents to place all of their recycling in one container. The site has the capability to sort more materials than ever before, including new materials, such as Tetra Paks in household collections. 

Kate Humble hosted the event and spent time with children from Pilgrim’s Way Primary School in the new Recycling Discovery Centre, which has been designed by the team responsible for many of the exhibits in the Science Museum. The centre includes a working model of the Materials Recovery Facility to help children learn about what happens to recyclables after they are collected from their homes.

Kate commented:  “The need to recycle has led to some great innovations and inventions. I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve seen here, both in terms of the technology being used and the way the facility has been adapted to fit into the local environment. 

“Most of all, it has been fantastic to see children learning about recycling and having fun using the mini Materials Recovery Facility.  I've visited homes where it is the children who are leading the way in recycling and it is great to see the care that has been taken here to ensure that London pupils continue to set an example.” 

Councillor Peter John, Leader, Southwark Council, said:

"Today is an important milestone for the borough. The technology behind recycling and waste collection is taking a huge leap forward with this new site, but perhaps more important are the benefits to the man and woman in the street. Not only does it allow them to recycle more types of material than before but it takes away the need to sort. The site’s ability to divert rubbish from landfill and turn it into fuel, are both great achievements for Southwark and should benefit residents as well.” 

Jean-Dominique Mallet, Chief Executive Officer, Veolia Environmental Services (UK) Plc, said:

"I am exceptionally proud of what we have achieved in partnership with Southwark Council and its residents with this ground-breaking development packed with advanced technologies at a landmark location. This facility includes our first Mechanical Biological Treatment plant in the UK and takes inner city recycling and treatment to a new level by providing a completely integrated sustainable waste management solution on one site.” 
The facility allows the borough’s waste to be treated locally. Previously recyclables and household waste had to be transported out of the borough for sorting and disposal. 

Veolia and Southwark Council believe that the facility sets the standard for urban waste and recycling management in the capital, and it will play a major role in fulfilling Southwark's ambition to increase its recycling rate to over 40 per cent by 2014.

Strict Health & Safety and environmental standards have also been set around noise, traffic and odour control to ensure the facility meets its commitments to be a good neighbour to the local community. More than 30 new local jobs have already been created at the facility, with more expected in the future.

The facility was constructed by VolkerFitzpatrick.

For more information visit the website at or follow us on Twitter @Veolia_ES_UK #Southwark.