The county of Oxfordshire is among the very best in the country at recycling and composting with a countywide recycling rate of over 58%.
We are also very good at not producing waste and have one of the lowest waste arising per household 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 £102.10 per tonne. This means if we landfill 100,000 tonnes of municipal waste we would pay over £10.2m 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 Ardley ERF:
- treats up to 326,330 tonnes of waste per year – sufficient to treat all of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste
- diverts at least 95% of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste from landfill
- generates enough electricity for about 59,616 homes
- reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 56,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year
- has a visitor centre on site to allow schools and other groups to learn about sustainable waste management
- provides a value for money solution for managing our residual waste compared to continuing to landfill
- provides about 40 jobs
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.
Please do not place gas bottles or cannisters in rubbish bins as these can explode during processing. They can be returned to the retailer or supplier, or if necessary taken to household waste recycling centres. Please visit our recycling, reuse and repair search page to find out where you can recycle or dispose of these items.
Other items that are excluded from the ERF include glass sheets, car tyres, tree stumps, 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.
Bulky items such as mattresses, carpets, furniture, and PVC window and door frames continue to be landfilled. We will be looking for ways to recycle bulky items in the future.
Please see our household waste recycling centres page for information about recycling, general waste and bulky items at our sites.
Ardley ERF operation
If you would like to report an issue relating to the operation of the ERF please contact Viridor directly. Contact Viridor 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. Contact Viridor for more information.
The Environment Agency monitor and regulate the operation of the energy recovery facility and granted an Environmental Permit in September 2010. Contact the Environment Agency for information about how energy recovery facilities are regulated.
The Ardley ERF has a state-of-the-art visitor centre to teach children and 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.
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'.