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London's waste on the river of no return

Cory’s four new Shoalbuster 2208 tugs took part in the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant on 3 June. The tugs Reclaim, Recovery, Redoubt and Resource headed up the working boats section of the pageant. They are just the latest in a long line of Cory tugs that have been operating on the River Thames for over 110 years.

Designed to be used in shallow waters, the tugs have been in operation since autumn 2010, transporting London’s waste from four riparian transfer stations for processing at the Riverside Resource Recovery facility at Belvedere in the London Borough of Bexley.

Cory’s use of the River Thames has helped it create an integrated waste management system for London. As the largest lighterage operator in London, Cory has four transfer stations located along the Thames at Smugglers Way in Wandsworth, Cringle Dock in Battersea, Walbrook Wharf in the City of London and Northumberland Wharf in Tower Hamlets. It

transports around 600,000 tonnes of waste a year by water, thus saving more than 100,000 heavy vehicle movements a year on the capital’s already congested highways.

The development of this integrated waste management system followed the award of a 30 year contract in 2002 by the Western Riverside Waste Authority (WRWA) to handle over 500,000 tonnes of municipal waste a year from the four central London boroughs of Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Cory also holds contracts with the City of London, Westminster and the London Borough of Bexley.

The system includes the MRF at Smugglers Way in Wandsworth, which was officially opened by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal in March 2011. The £25m MRF processes around 84,000 tonnes of dry recyclables a year from the WRWA area, and is a major part of London’s waste recycling infrastructure.

In 2003 Cory applied for planning to build the MRF adjacent to the existing Smugglers Way river based Waste Transfer Station (WTS). Situated within the borough of Wandsworth, with Hammersmith and Fulham to the north west, Kensington and Chelsea to the north east and Lambeth to the east - Smugglers Way MRF is an easily accessible location.

Waste that cannot be recycled is loaded onto one of Cory’s barges in sealed containers. Each of Cory’s 47 barges has a 300 tonne capacity and is pulled by a tug, which tows them some 20 miles downriver to the Riverside Resource Recovery facility in Belvedere.

The Riverside facility was officially opened by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal in May 2012, and is Cory Environmental’s single most significant development project. It is one of the UK’s most efficient energy recovery plants and an important strategic waste management facility for the capital. It is capable of managing an average of 585,000 tonnes of residual waste each year, over its life, with an annual throughput of up to 670,000 tonnes.  

In addition to taking municipal waste from central London and Bexley, Riverside also receives commercial and industrial waste by river and road from London. This EfW facility is now exporting 66MW of electricity into the National Grid, enough to power over 100,000 homes.

The final piece in this integrated waste management system is provided further down river at Tilbury Docks. The Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA) produced at the Riverside facility is taken back on Cory’s barges in specially designed containers to a new IBA processing facility developed by Ballast Phoenix. This can process 170,000 tonnes of IBA a year to recover metals and produce a construction aggregate currently being used on the M25 widening scheme and many other road and construction projects.

Neil Prior, communications assistant, Cory Environmental

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