Recovery and disposal

Oxfordshire is one of the best performing councils at recycling and composting, with a recycling rate of over 59%.

However, this still leaves a substantial amount of waste to be disposed of. Landfill sites emit methane gas, which is over 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide (CO2) as a greenhouse gas. The cost of landfill is also being driven up by landfill tax, which is £82.60 per tonne in 2015 and will increase again next year. This means that as well as reducing, reusing and recycling, Oxfordshire also needs to treat waste rather than landfill it.

In March 2011 Oxfordshire County Council awarded a 25 year contract for residual waste treatment to Viridor Oxfordshire Ltd. The new £200m energy recovery facility (ERF) built by Viridor at Ardley in north Oxfordshire, is now complete.

The ERF has capacity to treat 300,000 tonnes of waste per year - sufficient to treat all of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste, and:

  • diverts at least 95% of Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste from landfill
  • generates enough electricity for about 38,000 homes
  • reduces greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 56,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year (compared to landfill)
  • provides a value for money solution for managing our residual waste compared to continuing to landfill
  • provides about 40 jobs during operation.

The 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.

Construction of the ERF was completed in November 2014. It is fully operational and all Oxfordshire's residual municipal waste from kerbside collections and Household Waste Recycling Centres is now being treated there. The electricity generated is exported to The National Grid.

The Ardley ERF has a state-of-the-art visitor centre to teach children and interested adults about sustainable waste management and how energy recovery fits into the waste hierarchy.

For the latest information on residual waste treatment, and how to contact Viridor to arrange visits to the ERF, visit Oxfordshire County Council's pages on alternatives to landfill.

Aerial view of the ERF at Ardley

Image: 
Aerial view of the ERF at Ardley