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Newcastle investigates different waste technologies

Newcastle City Council is investigating a range of different technologies to help it treat 40,000 tonnes of its residual waste and will be inviting the waste technology market to submit bids to treat this waste early in the New Year.

Around 125,000 tonnes of municipal waste goes to Newcastles mechanical biological treatment process at Byker, which strips out the organic element for in-vessel composting.

Newcastle City Council sustainability unit head Les Clark told MRW: Over the long term, we only need 40,000 tonnes of residual waste treatment to allow us to meet our Landfill Allowance Scheme Trading targets on top of other things that we already have got. In relative terms, we produced 165,000 tonnes of municipal waste in 2008/09. We are only talking about 40,000 tonnes of that requiring residual treatment in the long-term. Most of the remainder is either dealt with through recycling, composting or the MBT process.

The council aims to reduce municipal waste by 15 per cent of 2005/06 levels by 2020 and to recycle at least 55 per cent of household waste by 2020.

In its municipal waste strategy the council states that a range of possible technologies have been investigated but there are some conflicting views as to appropriateness of some technologies, in particular incineration and anaerobic digestion.

Newcastle City Council director of neighbourhood services Nigel Hails said the next step is to get political agreement to assess which technologies can deal with the councils waste through a procurement exercise. One of the options that could be assessed is gasification.

He said: Its an area that is advancing quite quickly and at the moment I wouldnt say things have stalled but there are a range of technologies, some established, but some very much in their infancy. I think that there needs to be, almost a proving period, and there might be another evolution in types of new technologies. At the moment we have identified the right ones to look at and I think its the right thing to do to take your advice from the market.

said that after the MBT process there was not much organic waste in the residual stream left that will allow anaerobic digestion to happen.

Speaking about why the council has not opted for the energy-from-waste incineration route, Hails explained: If people continue to go for single options it stifles the market, in terms of forcing it to be innovative. If everybody went for EfW, there will be no incentivisation for the industry to start thinking about alternative technologies. You can actually see that if you look at certain regions, especially in the London area, you can see that there is monopolisation in terms of one particular technology. Until you begin to see some of the other technologies mainstream, you will not see the financial benefits come through either.

said the next major challenge will be constructing the procurement exercise for the residual waste treatment

We are just in the process of putting that project team together and deciding what is the best procurement route we are going to take. And one of the first steps to take when we have our outline specification ready is to go to the market and say here we are, this is what we have got, this is our requirement and organise an event for the market and say come and talk to us. It is very important from our perspective to us to get as much market interest and push the boundaries on different types of technologies.

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