A 28-year £730 million contract with a £41 million mechanical biological treatment (MBT) at its heart has been signed by Cambridgeshire County Council and Donarbon Waste Management.
Donarbon beat an alternative MBT bid by Shanks and an energy from waste option from the Waste Recycling Group.
Government private finance initiative (PFI) credits worth £35 million have also been secured for the facilities which will be built at Donarbonms Waterbeach site near the A10.
Building work is expected to start in the next week or two according to council head of waste management Bernard Warr and the plant should start processing material in September/October 2009.
MBT technology will sort recyclates from black bag waste and produce compost-like material. However, Warr added: It should not be seen as an alternative to using kerbside recycling services. We will continue to provide these services in the same way.
He added: The capacity of the facility is 240,000 tonnes a year, and it has been sized to deal with a significant growth in waste as there are a lot of new houses being built in Cambridgeshire. However, while there is spare capacity, we will make this available to other counties, for example Suffolk.
Explaining the decision to use MBT, Warr said: We assessed the bids on quality, performance and price. The weight of importance was 70% on quality and 30% on cost, which sent a clear signal that we were looking for the right solution. The three bidders were all very close in quality, but in the end we went for the most cost effective option.
We had also looked at what was going on in the rest of the world, for example in Austria and Germany, which use MBT.
We were not for or against a particular type of technology; we were looking to the bidders to provide a solution.
Although interestingly, MBT does not get people as excited as waste to energy, so planning permission for the facility was given straight away. But Donarbon are very good on the pre planning application, presentation and public consultations. This seemed to help a lot.
Image: The contract between Donarbon Waste Management and Cambridgeshire County Council began with the opening of a new waste transfer station at Alconbury Hill, April 1 2008. The image shows a Huntingdonshire District Council refuse truck, with driver Eddie Woodfine, at the entrance to the new Alconbury Waste Transfer Station with (from L to R); Steven Howell health and safety coordinator for Hunts DC, Paul Smith supervising inspector for Hunts DC, Bernard Warr head of waste for Cambridgeshire County Council cutting the ribbon, Sarah Clover business development manager at Donarbon, Dave Wagland operations manager for the Alconbury Site for Donarbon and Jason Starling site manager for Farrans the construction company.