Resource Use

Suffolk incinerator officially opens

A new energy-from-waste (EfW) facility capable of burning up to 269,000 tonnes of waste a year to generate electricity has been officially opened in Great Blakenham, Suffolk.

Great Blakenham incinerator officially opens
Guests at the official launch on Friday in front of the sculpture by Paul Richardson.

The £180-million incinerator, built by Lagan and equipped with CINM technology, forms part of SUEZ environnement’s waste contract with Suffolk County Council, and aims to run for the next 25 years.

The plant was officially opened by the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, Clare, Countess of Euston, on Friday (10 July) but has been running in since 2014. To date, the incinerator has burnt 134,498 tonnes of waste to generate 87,645-megawatt hours of electricity. It has also extracted 4,409 tonnes of metal from the residual waste for recycling – some which has been used to create a sculpture for the site, designed by Suffolk artists Paul Richardson (pictured in background, above) – and turned 23,711 tonnes of incinerator bottom ash into aggregate for use in local building projects.

An estimated 1,300 people have also visited the site’s visitor centre since January 2015.

The plant also has the capability of providing heat to nearby businesses, but is currently awaiting a decision to be made on whether a neighbouring tomato green house will take the heat.

'Site successfully delivered on time and on budget'

At the inauguration on Friday, Matthew Hicks, cabinet member for environment at Suffolk County Council, stated: “Here in Suffolk we needed a cheaper, greener alternative to landfill and, together with the Suffolk Waste Partnership and the support of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), we commissioned SUEZ environnement to build and run an energy-from-waste facility.

“We are delighted to have worked with our partners at SUEZ, the Suffolk Waste Partnership and Defra to make this facility a reality. It’s fantastic to see the site up and running and successfully delivered on time and on budget.”

Jean Louis Chaussade, CEO of SUEZ environnement, added: "Our site will allow the county to reduce its CO2 emissions by 75,000 tonnes, while producing green energy at the same time. SUEZ environnement is positively engaged in this circular economy that preserves resources and reduces environmental impacts.”

David Palmer Jones, Chief Executive Officer for Recycling and Waste Recovery UK, part of SUEZ environnement, noted that the construction of the facility involved 100 local firms, while 47 new jobs have been created on site. He added that nearly £350,000 of funding has also been provided to groups within three-miles of the site, as part of the SITA Trust communities fund.

Energy-from-waste overcapacity

Despite the potential benefits of using waste heat from the incineration process, the growing number of incinerators in the UK has come under scrutiny in recent years, with the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) withdrawing funding from several recovery projects in 2014 after finding that the 29 energy-from-waste projects that already had funding would be ‘sufficient’ to meet the EU’s 2020 landfill diversion targets.

Further to this, waste consultancy Eunomia Research & Consulting has warned that due to the amount of energy recovery facilities being built, the UK’s residual waste treatment capacity will exceed supply in 2018/19.

This could lead to a situation of potential overcapacity in 2018/19 of around 2.3 million tonnes. It has previously estimated that this could eventually result in overcapacity of 16.4 million tonnes in 2030/31, restricting the UK’s recycling rate to 66 per cent.

Find out more about the Blakenham incinerator

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