What we are doing to reduce landfill

An energy recovery facility at Ardley now treats our residual waste instead of disposal in landfill

The county of Oxfordshire is among the very best in the country at recycling and composting with a countywide recycling rate of over 59% in 2016/17.

We are also very good at not producing waste and for 2016/17 had one of the lowest waste arising per person of any county council.

However, we produce around 300,000 tonnes per year of waste in total and even with excellent recycling and composting there is residual waste left that was previously sent to landfill sites for disposal.

Landfill sites emit methane gas which is a greenhouse gas over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2).

Landfill tax, which is paid on every tonne of non-inert waste landfilled, is now £86.10 per tonne. This means if we landfill 120,000 tonnes of municipal waste in 2018 we would pay over £10m in landfill tax alone. Further increases in landfill tax are expected.

Ardley energy recovery facility

In March 2011 we awarded a 25-year contract for residual waste treatment to Viridor Oxfordshire Ltd. In December 2014 construction of the new £200m Ardley energy recovery facility (ERF) built by Viridor at Ardley in north Oxfordshire was completed and our residual waste is now burnt to produce electricity.  The ERF will:

  • treat 300,000 tonnes of waste per year – sufficient to treat all of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste
  • divert at least 95% of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste from landfill
  • generate enough electricity for about 38,000 homes
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 56,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year
  • provide a visitor centre on site to allow schools and other groups to learn about sustainable waste management
  • provide a value for money solution for managing our residual waste compared to continuing to landfill
  • provide about 40 jobs during operation.

Our residual waste treatment contract has no minimum tonnage which means this is not a barrier to our continuing efforts to reduce, re-use, recycle and compost more of our waste.

Oxfordshire has already invested in anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting to treat our food waste and the energy recovery facility completes the infrastructure needed to achieve our ambition of sending almost zero municipal waste to landfill.

Waste excluded from the ERF

The ERF processes the type of general waste that would typically be put in kerbside residual waste bins. However, some items could damage equipment at the plant or affect how it operates.

Bulky items such as mattresses, carpets, furniture, and PVC window and door frames will continue to be landfilled. We will be looking for ways to recycle bulky items in the future.

Other items that are excluded from the ERF include glass sheets, car tyres, tree stumps, gas canisters and aerosols, heavy metal items, WEEE (large/small electrical household items, lighting equipment), building waste soil and rubble, chemicals, oils and batteries. These items can already be recycled or disposed of separately and can be taken to your nearest household waste recycling centre.

Please see our household waste recycling centres page for information about where to find containers for recycling, general waste and bulky items at our sites.

Ardley ERF operation

More information about the Ardley ERF is available from Viridor. Watch a video about how the process works.

If you would like to report an issue relating to the operation of the ERF please contact Viridor directly. See Contact us for information about how to do this.

Viridor were granted planning permission to build the facility by the Secretary of State in February 2011. Contact the Planning and Regulation Team for queries relating to the planning permission for the facility.

Viridor have established a local liaison committee which meets regularly to provide a forum for communication with the local communities closest to the new facility. See community benefits for more information.

The Environment Agency will monitor and regulate the operation of the energy recovery facility and granted an Environmental Permit in September 2010.

Visitor Centre

The Ardley ERF has a state-of-the-art visitor centre to teach children and interested adults about sustainable waste management and how energy recovery fits into the waste hierarchy. Contact Viridor at the visitor centre to request visits for groups and individuals.

Transporting residual waste

In January 2013 we awarded contracts to FCC Waste Services (UK) Ltd and Grundon Waste Management Ltd for waste bulking and haulage services. This enables residual waste to be transported to the energy recovery facility efficiently.

Refuse collection vehicles in South Oxfordshire, Vale of White Horse, West Oxfordshire and some from Cherwell deliver to waste transfer stations and the waste is then transported to the energy recovery facility in HGVs. This means fewer vehicles need to travel to Ardley.

More information

More information about energy-from-waste technology is available from the Environment Agency.

We undertook a competitive procurement process to award the residual waste treatment contract. More information about the process we used is available in 'How we did it'.