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Future of Leeds' waste

Leeds' Integrated Waste Strategy 2005 to 2035

Our waste strategy is a long term plan which sets out how we will encourage people to reduce waste, recycle more and stop valuable resources being sent to landfill.  We keep the plan up to date by producing annual action plans to make sure we meet our targets and residents' needs. You can find more details in the Documents section of this page.
We have made lots of progress since we adopted the Strategy in 2006 when our recycling rate was 20%. Thanks to you, we now recycle over 40% of household waste.

We aim to recycle 55% of our waste by 2016, with a long term target of 60%.

To get to this target, we have introduced an alternate weekly collection so that your recycling bin gets emptied more often. We are continuing to improve the services we offer to increase the amount of materials we can accept for recycling.


Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility

Veolia Environmental Services have been appointed to build a high-tech waste plant to treat our black bin waste and stop it going to landfill.

artist's impression of the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility at LeedsThis plant will remove any recyclable materials and then what’s left over will be burnt under tightly controlled conditions. This will produce enough electricity to power around 20,000 homes and any extra heat could be used by local businesses and new housing in the Aire Valley.

Construction has started at the site which is next to the East Leeds Link Road in the Cross Green Industrial Estate.

Why does the council need residual waste treatment?

​At the moment, most of Leeds' waste is still buried in the ground.

Burying rubbish costs huge amounts of money, and the bill to the council is going up around £1.5 million every year. The rotting rubbish also creates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which can harm the environment. This cannot continue. The council started the residual waste treatment project to identify different options of treating this waste.

The council are still working hard to help reduce the amount of waste thrown away and to recycle as much as possible. The council has set new targets to recycle 55% of Leeds' waste by 2016 and a long term target to recycle over 60%. The council are improving recycling services, especially in areas that did not receive a service in the past.

Even after these efforts, there will still be a substantial proportion of the waste that needs to be disposed of, collected mainly in black bins. This is called residual waste.

How much will the facility save the council?

​In addition to the environmental impact of landfill, landfill tax is increasing each year and will be set at £80 per tonne by 2014/15. The cost to the Council of continuing to landfill its waste is going up by around £1.5 million every year. Leeds has been allocated £68.6 million of PFI credits by DEFRA which equates to an estimated £134 million of income to Leeds City Council over the life of the contract. The facility is estimated to save the Council around £200 million up to 2040 as compared to continuing to landfill residual waste.

What is Veolia's facility?

​Veolia are proposing to build a landmark Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) at the former wholesale market site on the Cross Green industrial estate. Their facility comprises two main treatments. A flexible Mechanical Pre-Treatment facility will remove a range of recyclable materials left in the residual waste (at least 10% but Veolia is hoping to recycle 20%). The waste left over will then be burnt under controlled and safe conditions using proven Energy Recovery technology, to supply the National Grid with enough electricity to power around 20,000 households.

What type of waste will Veolia's facility treat?

​The plant is designed primarily to take Leeds' black bin waste, and the size of the facility is based on forecasts for the council's residual waste, which assumes that all the recycling initiatives are happening and recycling targets are met.

There is some headroom in the facility to allow for changes in the Councils forecasts. To fill any shortfalls, Veolia will source commercial and industrial waste of a similar nature to household black bin waste from within Leeds.

The council has set a restriction on the quantity of waste that can be imported from outside Leeds for treatment at the facility so that it remains a facility for waste produced in Leeds.​

What will the outputs be from the facility?

Recyclable Materials

Veolia will extract paper, cards, plastics and metals from the waste it receives. Throughout the life of the contract, these materials may change to ensure environmentally-friendly and effective recycling.


The facility will generate around 11 MegaWatts (MW) of electricity, which will be supplied to the national grid, which equates to enough electrictity to power around 20,000 homes.

Incineration Bottom Ash

At the end of the process, there remains approximately 20% of the waste input in the form of a "clinker" (a black, ashy deposit), and this is called Incineration Bottom Ash. Veolia will store this in an enclosed bunker at the site for no longer than 10 days, before transporting it via the primary road network to a re-processing facility in Sheffield.  This material will be recycled as an aggregate, and used within the construction industry.

Air Pollution Control (APC) Residues

These residues are produced as a result of treating the flue gas with reagents to remove hazardous pollutants. The residues are safely stored within a sealed container prior to being removed from site to a fully permitted long-term storage/disposal facility.


Other than the APC residues referred to above, the only elements of the council's residual waste going to landfill will be those that are unsuitable for treatment at the facility, for example due to size.

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