Resource Use

Waterbeach MBT returns to action


Waste management company, AmeyCespa, has announced that its Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plant in Cambridgeshire is once again processing the county’s household waste.

The MBT facility at AmeyCespa’s Waterbeach site on Ely Road broke down in September 2012 after a malfunction in its turning equipment.

Having previously processed around 112,000 tonnes of Cambridgeshire’s black bag waste each year, it was feared the plant would not resume full operations until ‘early 2014’. In the meantime, the county’s residual waste has been heading to landfill.

Earlier this autumn, the plant began operating at ‘reduced capacity’, and the input has gradually been increased to ensure that all is working as it should. The facility has now resumed full operations.  

Paul Greenwell, Managing Director of AmeyCespa, said: “We are happy to confirm that the MBT plant is once again processing black bag waste from homes across Cambridgeshire.

“Not only have we replaced the turning machinery which failed in 2012, but we have also taken the opportunity to make improvements to the mechanical treatment element of the plant. This allows us to further maximise the benefits from the county’s household waste.”

The resumption of MBT operations caps an eventful year for AmeyCespa. In February this year, the company opened a material recycling facility (MRF) at the Waterbeach site as part of its contract with the council. Less than a month later, the MBT plant was ravaged by fire.

Waste contract

Having opened in 2009, the MBT plant is a key element of AmeyCespa’s 28-year private finance initiative (PFI) contract with Cambridgeshire County Council. Using various technologies, the MBT facility separates out recyclable material from the county’s black bin waste before sending the remaining waste to biodegrade for seven weeks in a composting hall. The facility is credited with a 50 per cent reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill.

The 2012 malfunction occurred in one of the two ‘lines’ of machinery that are used to turn the non-recyclable waste extracted from the black bag waste for seven weeks as it composted. While all of the county’s residual waste was redirected to landfill during repairs, the nature of the contract protected taxpayers from footing the bill.

Councillor Mathew Shuter, Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Waste at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We are pleased that the MBT plant is now processing waste again. AmeyCespa has worked very hard with their contractors to carry out the significant work that has brought the facility back into operation.

“It is important to remember that throughout this time the authority and local council tax payers were protected from any additional costs incurred because of the breakdown due to the robust contract we have in place.

“The focus now is for us all to work together to further increase our recycling rates in Cambridgeshire. For while the MBT plant is one part of this effort, we all need to make sure we put more of our waste into our recycling wheelie bins. “

He added that although residual waste may have been sent to landfill whilst the MBT was offline, ‘every day hundreds of tonnes of recycling collected from kerbside continued to be recycled and the garden and food waste was being composted’.

Cambridgeshire residents are being reminded to use their recycling and organic waste bin collections to maximise diversion from landfill and recycling. Materials that can be collected include glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard. There is a separate collection for food and garden waste.

Read more about the services provided by AmeyCespa or find out about Cambridgeshire recycling.