Top award for radical waste scheme
Published: Monday 29th November 10
A revolutionary waste disposal system that could save taxpayers millions of pounds has won a top environmental award after being piloted on a Wandsworth housing estate.
The Chartered Institute of Waste Management has awarded its prestigious Environmental Excellence Award for Innovative Practice jointly to Wandsworth Council and its commercial partner in the pilot scheme PyroPure Ltd.
The award follows the successful field trials of a new waste disposal process that uses cutting-edge technology to reduce domestic waste into a fine dust.
Effective use of this new technology could deliver huge savings to councils on their waste disposal bills, as the cost of collecting, transporting and then disposing of thousands of tonnes of household waste would be avoided.
In Wandsworth alone, the technology could eventually be used to remove around 6,000 tonnes of refuse from the waste disposal process.
The PyroPure system is based on a technology called pyrolysis, which uses heat inside a pressurised container in the absence of oxygen to reduce most household waste into carbon dust. This dust can then be simply flushed out into normal sewage pipes.
It is a technology used by the Royal Navy in their on-board waste management systems because naval vessels are banned from dumping waste at sea.
Equipment was installed in the communal waste bin chambers of a high rise Wandsworth housing block to check if the PyroPure system would work in locations where refuse is deposited into chutes and collected in large communal paladin storage bins.
Key to the success of these field trials was the use of special electronic sensors to ensure that only suitable waste was directed into the PyroPure bins. The sensors successfully diverted off into separate storage space all large, heavy or bulky items that should not be placed in refuse chutes.
Another benefit of using the sealed and pressurised PyroPure waste containers instead of open topped paladins is that smells and spillage are eliminated from these large communal dustbins.
And because the PyroPure system does not break down glass and tin, any bottles or cans thrown out with non-recycleable waste can be recovered for recycling after the process has been completed.
Using the technology also means that residents on housing estates no longer have to endure the noise of large dustbins being emptied into refuse trucks. It also means that these large refuse vehicles no longer have to negotiate their way along narrow estate roads.
Diverting waste away from disposal methods that cause greenhouse gases - such as landfill - would also play a key role in achieving carbon reduction targets.
The council's environment spokesman Cllr Sarah McDermott said: "We are delighted that our pioneering work with PyroPure Ltd has been recognised in such a prestigious awards ceremony.
"Installing a system that reduces bulky waste down to a few handfuls of carbon powder at source and avoids having to send big trucks down narrow streets to pick it up before shipping it somewhere else for final disposal is the holy grail of the waste management industry.
"This is a radical and exciting potential solution to the problem of the nation's ever growing waste mountain.
"Wandsworth is the only local authority in the country have carried out successful field trials of this technology and once they hear about it every council in the land will be clamouring to embrace this system.
"Widespread use of this highly innovative technology could lead to big savings for taxpayers and have a huge impact on cutting carbon emissions. It is truly a win win situation."
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