Water transport of municipal solid waste and Incinerator bottom ash
North London Waste Authority investigated the possibility of transporting via water Municipal solid waste to and Incineration Bottom Ash from the Edmonton Ecopark. The study looked at the associated costs and the environmental benefits and compared the results with that of road transport.
The results of the investigation show transport via the waterways will only be feasible with considerable infrastructure investment; regular monitoring and maintenance; management and oversight. Water transport costs are anywhere between 2.2 and 3.0 times as much as the equivalent road transport scenario.
Transport via the waterways is shown to reduce CO2e emissions by between 36% and 64%. However, the avoided emissions are small in the context of the wider project.
North London Waste Authority investigated the possibility of transporting via water municipal solid waste to and Incinerator bottom ash from the Edmonton Ecopark. The route included navigating the River Lee Navigation, Bow Creek and the River Thames. The study looked at the associated costs and the environmental benefits and compared the results with that of road transport.
Incinerator bottom ash is the solid material left over after the waste is burned and must be removed from site for recycling or disposal. The study shows the waterways in question are likely to have the capacity to accommodate up to 180,000 tonnes annually of Incinerator bottom ash and municipal solid waste but not without considerable financial investment.
Transport via the waterways will not be feasible without significant upgrades to the existing infrastructure, regular monitoring and maintenance; and owing to the complexity of the movements (involving three barging operations) will require a significant degree of management and oversight. The civil works are likely to include upgrading at least three of the four locks; upgrading the Ash Wharf at the Ecopark; and the installation of new commercial landing stages (for queuing barges) at either side of each lock.
In all scenarios the total costs of transporting Incineration Bottom Ash from and/or municipal solid waste via the waterways was more expensive than the equivalent road transport scenario - between 2.2 and 3.0 times as expensive. The total costs include costs for waterways infrastructure, waterways maintenance, wharf construction, on-site transfer costs, barge loading costs and transport costs for the Lee Navigation, Bow Creek, and River Thames. Without such investment the use of water as a means of transport would not be feasible. By comparison road transport has a readymade infrastructure and would only require the procurement of the necessary vehicles and handling plant.
The report shows that transport via the road network produces higher levels of CO2e per annum for each equivalent water transport scenario. Transport via the waterways is shown to reduce CO2e emissions by between 36% and 64%. In the context of the wider project, by diverting 700,000 tonnes of municipal waste from landfill via energy recovery north London's homes and businesses can avoid just over 188,000 tonnes of CO2e emissions in a year. Avoided emissions from water transport represent just 0.2% of this figure . The avoided emissions are minimal in the context of the wider project.
The transport via water of construction and demolition waste was also examined, and similar issues arise as for Incinerator bottom ash and municipal solid waste.