Waste treatment in Westmorland and Furness

How the three district council areas, Barrow, Eden and South Lakeland treat waste in Westmorland and Furness.

Responsibility of waste treatment in each area

There are three districts in Westmorland and Furness and each one has a separate and different way of dealing with waste and recycling.

Each district has the responsibility of the collection of household waste as well as collection of recycling. At present each district has a requirement to collect a minimum of two materials but in reality they each collect more. 

Garden waste collections

Garden waste collection is a discretionary service supplied by councils - they are not obliged (at present to provide this at all).

How recycling materials are treated

Districts have their own responsibility for what happens to materials collected for recycling.  They may have their own fleet of collection vehicles or they may have outside contractors doing the job for them.  Recycled materials are generally sold where there is a market for them - we try to keep them in this country but occasionally they are sent abroad. 

Waste collected by districts which is not  for recycling becomes the responsibility of the County Council for disposal. Traditionally this was sent to landfill but as these are running out of space this is no longer a viable option for the future.

Reducing the amount that goes to landfill

In 2008, Cumbria County Council (now managed by Cumberland and Westmorland and Furness councils) signed a 25 year deal with Shanks Waste Solutions in 2017 (now Renewi following merger of Shanks Group plc with Van Gansewinkel Group BV). This partnership has  slashed the amount of rubbish Cumbria sends to landfill. 

From 2012, much of the county's waste has been sent for Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) at two state of the art plants - one in Barrow and the other near Carlisle. The MBT process produces a  Refuse Derived Fuel , which is used in cement kilns and Energy from Waste plants to produce electricity .  The Carlisle plant was the first to open on 17 December 2011 and the Barrow plant on 1 April 2013.  There are 3 transfer stations where waste is collected before being transported to the plants - this saves smaller bin lorries travelling long distances around the county. 

How the process works

Wagons come into the plant and empty the waste into the reception pit. From there it is put through a shredder before being transferred into the drying hall. The drying hall contains rows of waste from around the county, each row being one day's waste.  It stays there for approx two weeks as it is dried out. This is done by drawing air down through the waste and out through the floor, the air is released through a bio filter outside which stops smells coming out of the plant. The waste is reduced in mass by around one third through this drying process.

After this it is then put through a series of drums, sieves, trommels, flip flops and magnets to take out any materials that can be recycled.

While MBT offers a long term and sustainable future for the county's waste, the process will only work if we all continue to reduce the amount of rubbish we create in the first place.