£730million contract to boost recycling

RECYCLING rates in Cambridgeshire could shoot up from the current 50 per cent of household waste to 85 per cent when a new plant comes on stream in two years time. On the basis of the most recent figures, Huntingdonshire residents already recycle more tha

RECYCLING rates in Cambridgeshire could shoot up from the current 50 per cent of household waste to 85 per cent when a new plant comes on stream in two years time.

On the basis of the most recent figures, Huntingdonshire residents already recycle more than half their waste, closely followed by South Cambridgeshire.

But, under a £730million 28-year PFI contract that was formally signed on Tuesday after three and a half years in the planning, Cambridgeshire County Council expects to recover 70 per cent of the waste that now goes to landfill.

The first element of the contract - a new £2million-plus waste transfer station for Huntingdonshire - has just opened at Alconbury Hill as an under-cover tipping point for HDC's familiar yellow refuse trucks.


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In the short-term the refuse will be bulk-hauled to landfill. But, once a major mechanical biological treatment plant is built by Donarbon Waste Management Limited at Waterbeach and opened in April 2010, "black bag waste" will be sorted to remove anything that can be recycled or composted.

The little that is left is all that will go to landfill, compared with 90 per cent in Huntingdonshire just a few years ago.

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"Glass, cans and some plastics can be sorted and removed for recycling, along with clean cardboard and paper," Donarbon's waste promotions manager Mark Shelton told The Hunts Post.

"Some material can be used as a refuse-derived fuel to produce power. Other paper and cardboard and some light plastics can be made into a kind of compost. Although it cannot be used in agriculture or horticulture, it can be used for restoring contaminated land or production of crops for fuel."

Increasing the proportion of recycled waste will substantially reduce the county council's - and Council Tax payers' - exposure to being hit with million of pounds of landfill tax after 2011.

But all the councils are stressing that householder will need to continue their recycling efforts for kerbside collections after the new facility is open to avoid its being swamped.

The Donarbon scheme will also include a visitor centre where people, including local children, will be able to learn more about recycling and find out about the MBT plant, which uses environmentally friendly methods to treat waste. Additional facilities for the composting of kerbside collected kitchen and garden waste will also be provided under the new contract.

Cambridgeshire has topped national league tables for recycling and composting since 2003-2004 and is on track to exceed its target of 50 per cent for 2007-2008. But it still has to spend £7million each year landfilling thousands of tonnes of rubbish that cannot currently be treated, a figure that is set to rise by another £1 million in 2008-2009 because of recent Government landfill tax increases.

County Councillor John Reynolds, who was instrumental in bringing the PFI contract to fruition as the previous lead member for planning and regional matters, said: "Helping to secure a greener future for our children and grandchildren has always been at the heart of this contract. We are very pleased to have laid the foundations for managing Cambridgeshire's waste over the next 28 years.

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