An extension at the north east’s only energy from waste facility has processed household waste equivalent in weight to 10,000 double decker buses since it became operational a year ago.
Leading recycling and resource management company SITA UK has dealt with an additional 140,000 tonnes of refuse at its Tees Valley facility since the third line opened.
The extension, with a £70 million investment, became operational at the end of May last year, enabling the whole EfW facility at Haverton Hill, near Billingham, to handle 390,000 tonnes of waste a year, creating 30MW of electricity for the National Grid.
The additional line was built by SITA UK on behalf of Northumberland County Council as part of its 28-year Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract signed with the authority, which aimed to transform recycling and waste management in the county.
The ultimate target of the extension was to help reduce Northumberland’s long-term reliance on landfill, so that just eight per cent of the county’s residual waste goes to landfill by 2012.
As a result, the amount of waste sent to landfill has already reduced to just 11.5 percent, which is just one fifth of the amount landfilled prior to April last year.
Ian Haswell, SITA UK Regional Manager for the Tees Valley, said: "The extension has worked very efficiently during the past 12 months and we are delighted that it has assisted Northumberland in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.
"The extension was designed to the very highest environmentally-friendly standards. It was delivered on time and within budget and continues to surpass all of our expectations."
The extension was officially opened in October last year by former North West Durham MP Hilary Armstrong, SITA UK Chief Executive David Palmer-Jones and leader of Northumberland County Council Councillor Jeff Reid.
Coun Reid said: "Having the ability to access the energy from waste facility has proved to be a great benefit to Northumberland and is saving our residents millions of pounds in landfill tax each year.
"By 2012, our target is to recycle and compost more than 45 per cent of household waste, recover energy from non-recycled waste and reduce the amount sent to landfill to only eight per cent, and we believe we are on track to achieve that."
The green energy facility creates electricity for the National Grid by using non-recycled waste as a fuel to produce enough power to supply about 36,000 homes, which is more than half of the homes in South East Northumberland.
Bottom ash that is produced during the process is recycled and processed into building aggregates, which can be re-used in the building and road-laying trades. The new extension has produced more than 44,000 tonnes of bottom ash since May last year.
During construction, between 60 and 100 jobs were created, and SITA UK has employed an additional 20 people to operate it on a day-to-day basis.