Swindon’s pioneering £8m waste-to-energy plant has been officially opened, positioning the town at the leading edge of innovation in handling municipal refuse.
The state-of-the-art Cheney Manor plant, opened by environment minister George Eustice, will treat 48,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste a year by separating it and producing two types of fuel – refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and solid recovered fuel (SRF).
When fully operational, it could save Swindon Council £16m over the eight-year lifespan of its contract, with the possibility of an extension, by heavily reducing the bill to send the town's waste to landfill sites.
The council is funding the plant through a £6m loan to Swindon Commercial Services (SCS), its wholly-owned outsourced services company, which developed the plant.
Mr Eustace said: “Defra is very keen to encourage energy-from-waste and projects of this sort, and I think energy-from-waste is definitely the way to go as we cannot keep chucking this stuff into landfill.
“We are not just going to have the RDF but also the finer quality SRF, which means we can save most of the energy. It’s really exciting, and Swindon is leading the way.
“My only problem is we have to export this stuff to Germany, and on this front the UK needs to catch up. We should not have to deal with costs associated with the export.”
Swindon Council leader David Renard said the investment would boosted Swindon’s overall recycling rate, which now stands at 44.33%.
Canadian equipment manufacturer Machinex produced the plant's custom-made machinery.