Resource Recovery operates five waste transfer centres, a mixed dry recyclables recovery facility and a landfill site. A range of technologies are deployed at the waste transfer centers, including:
- Mechanical grabs
- In-vessel bio-stabilisation units
- Magnets (ferrous metals)
- Eddy currents (aluminium)
- Laser optical equipment (identifying and sorting plastic materials based on their molecular density) and
- Balers (baling materials to customer specifications).
While landfill has a role to play in Ireland’s waste management system, it is the lowest priority in the waste hierarchy as it is the least efficient at recovering materials and energy from the waste stream. It also has the greatest environmental impact. However, we are responding to this in a number of ways:
We are in the process of developing a ‘Brown Bin’ waste composting facility adjacent to our Drehid landfill. The plant will have a capacity to handle 25,000 tonnes of biodegradable waste per annum and construction is targeted to commence later this year.
Brown bin roll out through our Waste Collection business, AES
Segregation at source is key to effective recovery and reuse of waste materials. Early segregation and capture of this domestic kitchen and garden organic waste stream allows for the creation of a quality, low-reject compost from the waste material.
Composted organic waste material will be made available to our horticulture business as a feedstock for growing media, thus supporting that business in meeting its peat-dilution targets.
Our Waste Collection business, AES, has over 95,000 domestic customers in the Midlands, South East and Mid West of Ireland. One initiative we have undertaken is to provide bins for different waste streams. It has been shown that the recycling/recovery rate correlates directly with the number of bins provided. Hence a one-bin system has zero recovery, whereas a four-bin system can achieve a 60% recovery rate.
Mechanical biological treatment (MBT)
MBT is a term that describes a sequence of processes that includes mechanical separation of co-mingled (i.e. nonsegregated) waste streams and treatment (typically composting or anaerobic digestion) of the biodegradable fraction. MBT plants are designed to process mixed household waste as well as commercial and industrial wastes.
It is our intention to supplement our existing mechanical sorting processes with an appropriate MBT technology by 2013. This will be a significant enabler in the implementation of our landfill diversion strategy with the potential to handle over 200,000 tonnes of material.
Landfill diversion – progress
Total waste collected in 2009/2010 saw a 4.4% decline on 2008/2009 volume. This reduction largely reflected the decline in activity in key sectors such as construction, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
Despite the reduction in overall waste volumes managed, the volume of waste treated at our organic waste treatment facilities increased by 12% over the year. Most of this waste was composted at our Kilberry composting facility for inclusion in our horticultural product range. Overall landfill diversion increased to 54% as we continue our journey to 80% diversion by 2013.