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UK set to get first vitrification plant

Either South Yorkshire or the North Midlands could soon be home to the UK's first commercial vitrification plant that will convert waste into glass.

Sheffield-based Vitrium Holdings is behind the plans to build an £86 million iconic, architecturally designed plant that will merge into the surrounding landscape and create hundreds of jobs.

It has met with Sheffield First for Investment, Sheffield City Council, Rotherham Borough Council, Derbyshire County Council and Chesterfield Borough about a possible location.

Since the introduction of new hazardous waste regulations in the middle of August, it has become an offence to place untreated soil and hazardous waste into landfill sites.

This process, which is similar to ones already used in Australian and America, completely eliminates contamination and produces an environmentally safe glass product that can be made into building aggregate, cement and even tiles and kitchen surfaces.

Vitrium chief executive John Evans said: "Our process is cleaner, safer and less wasteful than treating wastes with chemicals or burying it in large concrete blocks. The key point is that the contamination is dissolved in the glass and therefore cannot leak out.

"At the plant the waste will be treated in a negatively pressured environment to ensure the elimination of emissions of any noise or odour."

The areas that are being investigated as a potential site for the plant have been selected because their industrial heritage has led to high levels of contaminated soil.

Sheffield First for Investment chief executive Phil Roberts said: "This project is particularly interesting because it turns an existing liability - contaminated land - into a productive asset."

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