Javelin Park incinerator to be built by…

Well, after many months (or years) of work, the preferred bidder for the incinerator project at Javelin Park is Urbaser/Balfour Beatty (UBB).

According to the article and other sources, the energy production capacity from the incinerator will be enough to power 25,000 homes, from 116,000 Megawatt hours of electricity.

What’s the equivalent power in terms of wind turbines? Well, 1 x 5MW turbine can produce 15 million KWh per year or 15,000 Megawatt hours. This means that if 116,000 Megawatt hours will be produced by the incinerator, this means it’s equivalent to 7.7 x 5MW wind turbines! That’s a virtually constant source of power and not just when the wind blows.

(1 KW = 1000 watts, 1 MW = 1 million watts)

The Ecotricity M4 Reading example is a 2MW capacity turbine, so this means the incinerator could be producing enough energy to equate to just over 19 of these turbines! If you’ve ever driven past this turbine, you’ll understand why this is fairly impressive.



No waste(?) + incinerator energy…

We recently made the next jump in our sustainable lives… recycling all plastics and dramatically cutting down on the black bin rubbish we produce.

I’ve recently been looking into the proposed incinerator just south of Gloucester and the implications of waste management and a recycling level which is way below other European countries. This has finally prompted me to start collecting all our plastics waste, with the intention of sending this away for recycling. In the end, this hasn’t been necessary, as Claire’s grandparents local authority collect this type of waste for recycling, but it’s really reduced what we need to throw away.

Claire has just put the icing on the cake by actually shifting our old ‘waste’ bin into the back toilet room, which is a way of making it harder to just throw something away which could easily be recycled.

So, now we have our indoor ‘green box’ container, which is for things that our council will pick up as part of their weekly collections (cardboard, paper, glass, metal, plastic bottles etc), our brown food waste bin (which we just tip directly into our compost bin in the garden) and a bag for collecting any other type of packaging (including foil, aluminium, plastics, wrapping, crisp packets etc).

The whole incinerator thing has made me realise every single person needs to first get their own house in order before attacking the County for what they are trying to do with our waste. How many of us can really say we recycle 70% of what we consume?

The one really positive thing about the incinerator is the energy output. This will be 14MW, which is equivalent to 10 (2MW) wind turbines (based on an estimated output from a 2MW turbine of 1.4MW, due to the wind not blowing the whole time!). An example of this is the Ecotricity wind turbine which is by the M4 near Reading. That turbine is a 2 MW type, which powers over 1,000 homes. This would mean that the incinerator could power around 10,000 homes.

I wonder if the County would get planning permission for a 10-turbine project in the same area?


The Gloucester incinerator: public consultation event…

A small group of us cycled over to the second consultation event at Javelin park on Sunday, for some first hand information from the two remaining bidders and the representatives from the County Council.

The Complete Circle website

The Urbaser Balfour Beatty website

There were three Portakabins just by the car park, with the two bidders on either side. I went into the Complete Circle cabin first as I had already viewed all their factsheets and website material, so felt I knew the most about their scheme.

Well, after 10 minutes in there, I was pretty sure I knew more about their scheme than they did! I lost track of the number of times a couple of them said ‘i’ll have to ask someone else’. Their design is bland and bulky and at around 45 metres in height over most of the building, this presents a large intrusion in the local landscape. There were very few answers to some of my only slightly probing questions and I honestly felt like the object was to just display their website information without the ability to expand on it.

Next was the Urbaser & Balfour Beatty cabin, which was a marked improvement on the first bidders efforts, in a number of ways. The UBB team were technically better prepared and able to comment on and explain both the principles involved and their own scheme design + why they had altered some of the elements from the first consultation.

Their efforts were greatly helped by an interesting overall design, a real model of the facility and a computer fly-through. Their design is broken up into distinct sections, which fall in height along the building, giving a lower overall mass, also broken up by large green sections. Their technical people were able to answer all my questions and the overall impression was far more convincing and reliable.

The County cabin was last and was in many ways the important one, considering they are in charge of the tendering process. They were able to answer my questions and they seemed fully aware of the many issues involved, particularly surrounding the problem of getting to the magic 70% recycling rate (which only Austria have hit in Europe).

The next stage for them is to seek to co-mingle all the recyclable materials in a single bin (much like other districts), which would certainly boost the present 48% rate. Their example of Tewkesbury Borough Council going from 32% to 54% in a year, after introducing this type of scheme, is a good indicator. 48% could go to 60% in a year and get to 70% based on continuing to support and promote recycling.

My questions and issues:

1) Why no pre-incineration sorting of the ‘rubbish’? This was the main issue, given that so much of what people put into their black bins can be recycled.

2) What are the overall emissions, in terms of particles and CO2?

3) Will the emissions data be fed live onto the website?

4) What frequency of bin lorries will be required and will their be any non-local deliveries?

5) How will the ash be disposed of?

6) What is the CO2 output per tonne of waste?

7) What is the visual impact of the proposals? This was particularly interesting, given CABE’s response included the quote, ‘…fits seemlessly into the countryside.’!

I’ve also just sent off a query to UBB concerning wanting information on the WRATE system information which they are submitting. This will hopefully give an overall comparison figure for the NET emissions issue.

‘WRATE (Waste and Resources Assessment Tool for the Environment) software compares the environmental impacts of different municipal waste management systems.’

One of the main conclusions from the process that day was picking up on both bidders assertion that NET CO2 emissions would be reduced by more than 20,000 tonnes per year, when compared to landfill. I did ask if this included all the linked processes, such as all delivery vehicle movements, but neither bidder had this information with them, but this was included in their environmental assessment package.

The other major plus for the incinerator approach is the production of electricity. I forgot to ask about the proposed solar panels on the roofs, but energy production is certainly a very important element of the package.

So, the overall winners by some way were Urbaser Balfour Beatty. I’m going to have to look into the NET emissions figures further, partly because of the Methane issue – methane as a green house gas in more than 20 times more powerful than Carbon and is released in huge amounts from landfill.

I’m certainly not as opposed as I was and accept that landfill is not a good approach to waste management. My main concern is still the burning of waste which could otherwise be recycled, therefore making more efficient use of what are valuable and limited resources.


Waste incinerator issues…


Some interesting but scary quotes from: ‘The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators – 4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine (Second Edition June 2008)’ IncineratorReport_v3[1] ‘Incineration has been reported to be more expensive than alternative waste strategies even … Continue reading

Gloucester incinerator…

Proposals for an incinerator to the south of Gloucester are causing a very small stir in the local community, but should be creating something a lot bigger.

Another informative and sensible post on this subject by Baz Kirby. My response was as follows…

‘This is my next mini-research project and this blog post has certainly helped to put the issues into perspective. I’ve just been getting into plastics recycling and have been recycling everything I can with Gloucester’s limited green box scheme since it started. we also compost virtually everything we produce as waste that is organic, only leaving nappies (our big eco-no no!) as the black bin rubbish.

So, given it is possible to recycle or compost virtually everything a normal household produces, why is there no pre-incineration sorting process? That is utterly ridiculous. Plus, why is there no heat to be captured and used as part of the process (as you suggested)? I’ll certainly be going along if I can but i’ll do my homework first. : )’

I also posted about this a while ago and laid out all of the arguments there…  https://matthaslam.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/the-gloucester-incinerator

I will have to look up the details of the specific proposals for Gloucester but apparently the aim of the scheme is to not carry out any type of pre-incineration sorting process and to not extract any heat from the process for converting into electricity – combined heat and power.

The latter point is fundamental to the whole scheme (or should be) the idea is to use the heat to produce electricity which can be fed back into the grid and used by anyone. This means that people who are not adjacent to the site can benefit.

The energy contained in the ‘rubbish’ is lost forever and converted into CO2 and air pollution. Recycling re-uses some of this energy and overall uses less energy to create new products from old, than compared to producing brand new products.

The constant and on-going rubbish transport costs and environmental impacts from non-local and local trips will add a heavy environmental cost. The actual monetary cost of this scheme diverts badly needed funding and attention from recycling schemes

There are a number of public consultation events going on over the following dates:

Saturday 12th November, 12 noon to 6pm

Sunday 13th November, 12 noon to 4pm

Monday 14th November, 2pm to 8pm


Incinerator victim of cuts…

Excellent news. So, there’s one good thing for Gloucester since the budget cuts have been announced.

An article in the Citizen about PFI funding for the incinerator being withdrawn.


The Gloucester incinerator…

The future Gloucester incinerator. Good news or very bad news?

This late-night angry rant (before I watch Liverpool getting spanked by Blackpool (!!) on MOTD2), was inspired by Baz Kirby’s Blog post about it. Thanks to him for getting me to re-look at this. It’s an important issue which needs more attention.

There is no definitive conclusion, given the different weights which each person will place on each aspect of the debate, but, sometimes you just have to jump off the fence and put your flag in the ground!

There are a number of positive aspects, otherwise it wouldn’t even be an issue. Just to get these out of the way first, there is a very short term cost saving, in that little or no waste will be dumped in land fill, therefore saving most, if not all, of the landfill taxes. The electricity produced by the system can also be used or sold to the grid.

Ok, that’s about it.

Here are the negatives:

More new material has to be manufactured to replace that being incinerated, whereas this material could be recycled, therefore massively reducing the energy and raw materials needed.

In terms of the waste hierarchy, there are a number of important steps before this stage which should be developed and put to use. These are prevention (not using the material in the first place), minimisation (using less of it), reuse (repair the thing or put it to a different use) and finally recycle (use the various elements which make up the product in other products).There are many different types of pollutants found in the waste ash + there is the waste emissions from the chimneys.

Fine dust particles and dioxins are a real medical issue. Fine particles are repeatedly correlated to infant mortality.

The very existence of a large incinerator encourages more waste production and less recycling, given that these large incinerators need to be fed rubbish constantly.

Waste materials from the incineration process will end up in landfill, which costs a lot of money, in terms of management, land take and taxes.

The waste fly Ash needs specialist toxic waste landfill disposal elsewhere, also leading to further transport miles.

Long contract periods needed in order to recover initial investment costs, causing a long-term lock-in (operational lifetime is roughly 20-30 years). Even if better and more sustainable alternatives are chosen in the short or medium term, the incinerator will remain operational.

There already are better alternatives and this issue will become more and more pronounced as time goes on, with better technologies being developed. One example is the MBT method – Mechanical Biological Treatment, which can produce a fuel source or recovery of individual components, such as plastic, glass and metals. The biological treatment part of this is currently in use via Gloucester’s brown bin collection system and gets sent to a farm which processes the food waste in huge anaerobic digestion containers. The product is fertiliser, used in farming.

Incinerators can produce electricity but there are many other cleaner ways to produce electricity that doesn’t involve incineration – tidal, hydro-electric, wave, solar, wind etc.

Visually undesirable, with prominent chimney stacks and associated industrial structures.