Veolia has brought in a new manager and extra workers to address operating issues at its new energy recovery and recycling facility in Leeds.
Officers at Leeds City Council have reported to councillors that a contractual recycling rate of 10% from a residual waste stream was likely to be missed because of technical difficulties and Veolia’s paper pulping facility (PPF) not yet being on-stream.
Although the council has issued a series of improvement notices, the officers’ report notes that Veolia was “making significant efforts and taking clear measures in terms of changes to operational practices, modifications to the plant and the development of new infrastructure so as to ensure resolution of the issues”.
2000 Veolia Leeds official opening
The striking £450m facility, which became fully operational in April 2016 and was officially opened by the Duke of Kent in November, processes household black bin waste from the city with a goal of 10% being separated out for recycling as part of a 25-year PFI contract.
The report, which was considered by the council’s environment scrutiny committee, noted that Veolia drew up a plan last year when the recycling target for Q1 was missed and the council issued an improvement notice.
Quality of materials, changing markets, snagging issues and access issues for cleaning within the mechanical pre-treatment (MPT) facility were cited.
Performance was also lower than anticipated because the PPF alongside was not yet reprocessing paper and card output.
“However, since this time, additional significant mechanical issues with the plant, and in particular one key piece of equipment located at the start of the process (the ballistic separators), have had further impacts on performance. The Q2 recycling target was subsequently [missed] and a second improvement notice issued by the council in accordance with the contract,” the report said.
A revised plan from Veolia included an adjusted projection for 2016-17 recycling performance of 2.4%. The Q3 target was also missed and a third notice was issued.
The report notes that recent changes included:
- Veolia drafting in a director from another area of the business to provide support
- Agreement the ballistic separators were not fit for purpose
- A temporary repair was underway
The company’s latest prediction for recycling performance for 2016-17 is 2.1% but the report said the total was expected to be lower, meaning contractual levels of recycling performance would not be achieved.
“It is clear that Veolia are making significant efforts and taking clear measures in terms of changes to operational practices, modifications to the plant and the development of new infrastructure so as to ensure resolution of the issues.”
In response, Veolia said the operation to recover energy at the facility ”continues to operate above performance and is generating enough energy to power 22,000 homes”.
“With regards to our front end MPT process, we are currently undergoing an upgrade to improve efficiency. These steps include investing in key pieces of technology and introducing a third shift of staff to maximise operational flexibility, which will also have the added benefit of creating new local jobs.
“We are also utilising our global expertise at the facility to monitor and improve equipment reliability.
“Veolia understands the importance of achieving the recycling rate for the city and are committed to working collaboratively with Leeds City Council.”