Norfolk borough to get residual waste plant

Material Works

Material Works' Managing Director, Robert Billson (right) with Deputy Leader of King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council Councillor, Brian Long.

The Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk last week (13 December), signed a conditional 16-year Framework Contract with waste management company Material Works Ltd, to construct and operate a residual waste treatment facility.

The contract will see Material Works receive all the black bag waste collected by the Norfolk borough council – approximately 35,000 tonnes per annum – and sort through it to remove recyclable materials such as cardboard, paper, glass, metal and batteries. These will then be sent on for processing elsewhere.

New technology

Following the removal of ‘quality recyclates’, any residual waste that remains (largely plastics and organics) will be fed into an anaerobic digester (AD) for biogas capture, before moving into two ‘Saltus’ machines designed to sterilise and neutralise the waste. Methane captured via this process, or from separated food waste, will be used to provide electricity for the facility.

Having gone through the AD process, the resulting compost-like waste will then be mixed with plastics and other waste material, fed through a further two ‘Saltus’ machines and turned into a homogenised polymer mixture called ‘Omnicite’.

Following polymerisation, the material will then undergo the ‘Trinity’ process (comprising a tandem extruder) to produce a polymer alloy material known as ‘Rexylon’. This can then be used in low-grade polymer products such those used in the construction industry.

Managing Director of Material Works, Robert Billson, said: “This contract provides a landmark opportunity towards the integrated processing of mixed waste containing organics and polymers.

“These materials will be sold under the Rexylon brand and have the further advantage of being recyclable.”

Conditional contract

However, the contract with the Chester-based firm is only ‘conditional’, and will not be finalised until the company can demonstrate that the new technology will achieve End-of-Waste certification and that the borough council will receive recycling credits from Norfolk County Council.

If this is achieved, the plant could reportedly help the council recycle up to 90 per cent of its residual waste.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council's Chief Executive, Ray Harding is to now serve Norfolk County Council a ‘notice’ that it is ‘to withhold waste collected in black bins and sacks in the borough so that it can be recycled’ through the Material Works plant.

Positive feedback

Material Works was chosen for the project following positive feedback from two-thirds of 1,000 local respondents.

Deputy Leader of the borough council, councillor Brian Long, added:  “The initiatives taken by Material Works Ltd and the introduction of their technology to us has enabled the council to secure a viable and cost-effective alternative to landfilling of waste, which is more environmentally and financially beneficial for the authority and for our council tax payers”.     

Gate fee

The added value achieved by converting the waste into a range of saleable and recyclable products will reportedly enable Material Works to ‘totally fund the plant without any advance payments or contribution being made by the council’. Though, under the contract, the council is required to pay a gate fee of £55 per tonne of waste.

Billson said: “A number of preferred sites have been identified, the project technical team has been formed and it is planned that the input of waste materials from the council will begin on an agreed gate fee basis in two years time.

“The council will only commence payments under the terms of the contract once residual waste has been received, processed and turned into products”.

As part of the Framework Agreement other waste collection authorities in Norfolk, as well as those that share its border, will be permitted to ‘contract with Material Works for the collection and treatment of their residual domestic waste’ during the first four years of the initial contract.

It is hoped that once completed, the plant will provide 200 permanent jobs.

The announcement follows news that 65,000 people voted against the construction of a 268,000 tonne a year capacity energy from waste (EfW) facility proposed by Cory Environmental and Wheelabrator Technologies at the end of August, planning for which is set to undergo public inquiry in February.

However, it has been reported that Norfolk County Council has said that its plans will not change as a result of this new contract.

Read more about King’s Lynn and West Norfolk’s waste and environment policy