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Renewable rubbish

posted 12 Jun 2011, 01:58 by Heather Rogers
Horsham has the dubious honour of being the rubbish capital of West Sussex, with around 200,000 tonnes of the county’s household waste being landfilled into the old clay pits at the Brookhurst Wood site in North Horsham every year. That’s a lot of rubbish that currently serves no useful purpose and is rapidly filling up much of the available space.
But, as a group from Sustainable Rudgwick saw on a recent visit, that’s set to change in 2013 when Biffa’s new Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility opens on the same landfill site. It will be state-of-the-art and very big, having to take that same 200,000 tonnes of rubbish and turn it into something more useful. A series of processing steps will firstly shred it all and then sort it into recyclable metals, organic waste (mostly food), plus waste paper and plastic which can be used as a fuel source. The processing of the organic waste will produce biogas which, in turn, will be used in a combined heat and power plant to generate renewable energy. It’s expected to produce enough energy to power up to 7000 homes. Some rubbish will still have to go to landfill, but only about a quarter of the total.
Horsham District is setting the pace nationally in terms of recycling – our Acorn scheme and other services like the Household Waste Recycling centres already help us to recycle more than 50% of our waste. When the MBT plant is up to speed, we will be putting little more than 10% of our collective rubbish into a landfill hole. That has to be good news for the environment.
There’s not too much to see at the site yet but when it opens in two years’ time it will have a visitor and education centre that will welcome schools and community groups and host public open days.