Former Ellington in-vessel composting plant to be reused and recycled!

The development of a high-tech facility near Ashington in Newcastle, which will see food waste transformed into renewable energy for up to 5,500 homes, has started out on the right environmental footing by ensuring every building at the existing site has been reused or recycled.

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, which owns the former landfill, composting and wood shredding facility in Ellington Road, received planning permission in July to build a state-of-the-art £35m anaerobic digestion facility which will turn the region’s food waste into reliable, renewable energy and a biofertilizer.

However, with construction activity accounting for more than a third of global CO2 emissions, SUEZ was keen to ensure that a facility designed to alleviate the environmental impact of waste avoided inadvertently becoming a contributor to the problem during removal of the existing structures and development of the new ones.

Fortunately, a plan to carefully dismantle and reassemble the old buildings elsewhere, provided by Ashington based contract services provider Thorntons, has delivered a solution that aligns exactly with SUEZ’s commitment to a circular economy by placing reuse and recycling at its core.

Contracts Manager for Thorntons, Will Higson, said: “We opted for careful deconstruction and proposed rebuilding elsewhere rather than demolition as when we assessed the condition of buildings on site, we were confident we could find new homes for them.

“The dismantling work has been more intensive as much of it had to be done by hand and has obviously been more time-consuming than demolition. But, by doing it this way, we have avoided sending tonnes of steel to the “scrap man” by ensuring the buildings can be reused/repurposed.”

So far, one of the buildings has been repurposed as cattle shed on a local farm, another has been kept by Thorntons for their own use and the other two buildings have been purchased by local farmers.

In total, more than 10,500 tonnes of concrete have been saved during the demolition and will be crushed for use in the foundations of the new AD plant. Approximately 300 tonnes of reclaimed steel will also be reused in the construction.

Steve Patterson, Regional Director in the North for SUEZ said: “We are delighted with the solution that Thorntons have provided for us. Whilst we work very hard to promote the need to recycle, reusing materials is even more sustainable from an environmental point of view and we would always look to work with partners who can match our ambitions to consistently reduce our impact on the planet.”

The new anaerobic digestion facility will be completed by 2025 in time to accommodate anticipated legislation which will prohibit food waste going to landfill. Food releases methane as it decomposes which is a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than CO2 .

All gas and electricity generated by the new facility would be exported to the local distribution network as well as being used to power the plant.

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