Future of Leeds' waste
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Future of Leeds' waste

Leeds is the second largest local authority in the UK.

artist's impression of the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility at LeedsOn average, every household in Leeds produces 470kg of household waste per year at the kerbside– which is the equivalent of 5 baby elephants!

With 346,000 households in Leeds, we collect a massive 306,000 tonnes of waste each year from homes, household waste sorting sites and other recycling sites across the city.

We currently recycle around 40% of this waste. From households alone, in 2015/16 the amount was equal to the weight of 3,200 double decker buses. Our vision is to reduce waste, increase recycling and recover value from all waste in Leeds. We are achieving this in a number of ways. Through our education work with communities, we support residents to engage more with recycling, while continually seeking to improve our wide range of recycling services and facilities across the city. Part of this work is the creation of the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) at Cross Green.

Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility

The RERF, managed by Veolia, uses state-of-the-art technology and engineering to recover recyclable materials and energy from the city’s black bin waste. With our move away from the use of landfill sites, we have also reduced the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere by the equivalent of taking 29,000 cars off the road each year.

As well as the environmental benefits, this has already helped to realise huge savings, which will be used for other improvements and valued services.

The RERF’s modern construction and cutting-edge features include an iconic timber-framed building, hosting the largest living wall in the UK.

Would you like to visit the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility?

Two hour group tours are available Monday to Friday 9am to 7pm. For further tour information and to request a place, please complete the booking form and return it to leeds.enquiries@veolia.co.uk.

Additional information

Veolia UK


Click to expandWhy does Leeds need a RERF?

Leeds currently produces around 165,000 tonnes of black bin waste a year. Delivering our waste to the RERF saves the city around £7 million a year compared to the previous costs of landfill.

When waste breaks down in landfill sites, it produces greenhouse gases such as methane, which is up to 20 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2).

In line with the Climate Change Agenda, we needed to:

Reduce Leeds’ carbon footprint

Reduce use of landfill

Increase recovery of recyclables and energy from waste

Increase re-use

To find a more environmentally friendly and more economical way to deal with black bin waste, we undertook a comprehensive process to find the best solution. As a result, in 2012 we appointed Veolia Environmental Services to build our state-of-the-art Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) at Cross Green.

Click to expandIs the RERF just an incinerator for burning rubbish?

The RERF is much more than an incinerator.

A minimum 10% of the black bin waste will be extracted for recycling. The remaining waste then goes through a specialised combustion process. The steam power generated from this process is used to create electricity which is transferred to the national grid. In the future, it will contribute to a district heating scheme. The ash that is left is recycled to be used as construction aggregate.

Green bin waste goes to a different facility where the various recyclable materials are sorted and separated for reprocessing into useful products.

Click to expandWhat are the benefits of the RERF?

The RERF manages all black bin waste from across the city, preventing it going to landfill. This will save over £200 million over the next 25 years compared to landfill, and prevent the release of around 62,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. This is equivalent to taking around 29,000 cars off the road.

The combustion process transforms waste into electricity – enough to power around 20,000 homes per year. In the future, the RERF will supply a district heating scheme, providing reduced cost heat to social housing.

58 new jobs have been created along with a visitor centre to host educational visits and weekly tours (see booking form in Documents). The visitor centre is also available for hire by community groups.

The living wall and extensive landscaping hosts biodiversity habitats for wildlife and contributes to Leeds’ green corridors. Rainwater is harvested and used on-site.

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