What happens when recycling rates increase and there’s less non-recyclable waste to treat?

Our forecast waste model shows increased capacity is needed for the replacement facility. Even in the most ambitious scenario, achieving 65% recycling and a 50% reduction in food waste, London would still have a shortfall in energy from waste capacity if the NLHPP is not built as soon as London’s old plants retire, which is expected in the mid-2030s.

This is because the population in north London is expected to rise between 10-45%, with growth mainly in flats and apartments which have a lower recycling rate than houses. We expect that people will recycle more and produce less waste in the future but overall, there will be more people producing waste, which means we need to plan for increasing volumes of waste.

Even when north London reaches its recycling targets there will still be waste left over that needs to be dealt with. We want to divert waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill or third-party energy from waste facilities and instead use it to generate electricity to power homes and businesses.

Should recycling rates increase faster than expected, the Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) has been sized to accept different volumes of rubbish. It will have a maximum capacity of 700,000 tonnes per year but will be flexible enough to operate at a reduced capacity of 490,000 tonnes per year.

If society moves more quickly to a circular economy, we can modify the facility to continue operating at lower volumes, so there is no need for us to take in external waste from other areas.

The existing facility at the EcoPark cannot manage the volume of waste generated by north London, with third party collected commercial waste currently treated elsewhere. The sizing of the new ERF does not include business waste generated in the north London boroughs. The facility’s flexible capacity is important for our future ability to manage responsibly our own waste without having to export to other parts of the country.

For more information, please read our Need Assessment.