Veolia helping transform waste in London


Doing more with less, this could be the motto of the London Borough of Southwark, where waste is an energy resource thus helping to both reduce the amount of waste and increase the recycling rate!


Veolia, the French transnational company specialising in water management, waste management and energy services, is working in tandem with the London borough of Southwark to use domestic waste to produce heat and electricity. The partnership was established in 2008 and is scheduled to run over a 25-year period.

The success of the project rests on the twin pillars of better sorting of waste at source by local residents and the implementation of innovative treatment plants. The borough of Southwark consists of 294 000 residents living in 132 000 households and produces 120 000 tonnes of municipal waste per year. The local council took the farsighted decision to try to minimise the waste that was being produced while also seeking to recycle as much waste as possible and obtain as much energy as possible.

This decision led the Southwark council into partnership with Veolia as they sought the best method of using their municipal waste to their advantage. The process used in Southwark to convert the waste into usable energy involves two distinct phases in the process. The first step is that Veolia collects and transports the waste to its facility where they then extract the valuable recyclables from the waste products. The second step involves the waste then being transported to a Mechanical and Biological Facility where the waste is biodegraded and dried before being transformed into fuel. This fuel is then used to provide energy and heating for local residents.

One of the major advantages of the project is that it encourages increased recycling by the residents while using the waste that is still produced to provide heat and energy for the residents. Another feature of the project is that Veolia have established a program to help educate and inform residents on the benefits of recycling and the correct processes required.

This program has been a resounding success with Southwark now having a recycling rate of 35% which supplies 2600 households with electricity and heating while also saving on 8000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.


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