SunSkips’ new Cottenham site is officially up and running – and with it comes an innovative new solution for reusing customers’ waste.
The East Cambridge waste management site has the capacity to divert more waste away from environmentally-unfriendly landfill sites by turning it into fuel.
Solid recovered fuel (SRF) is made from common household and commercial waste that would normally go to landfill, making it a far better alternative to burning fossil fuels.
Workers at the new SunSkips site sort through plastics, contaminated paper and cardboard to be sent off to an SRF processing facility. This means a large amount of waste from Cambridgeshire, and locally Waterbeach, Willingham, Oakington, Longstanton, Stretham, Ely, and Newmarket, can now be used to power industrial boilers and cement kilns.
SRF is an alternative fuel made from the fibres of commercial and domestic waste that can replace fossil fuels in generating electricity and heat.
After the waste is sorted at the new SunSkips site, it’s shipped off to be further cleaned and dried before being ground up into a fluffy substance. This will burn at high enough temperatures to fuel cement kilns and boilers.
Producing SRF is a huge boost to SunSkips’ efforts to recycle as much waste as possible and live up to the firm’s commitment to becoming a greener waste management firm.
In fact, managing director Mathew Stewart hopes the company will have its very own SRF refining facility in the next couple of years, helping build the infrastructure necessary for England to become a serious player in alternative fuels and cutting carbon emissions.
He said, “More and more of these SRF processing facilities are coming online, which in turn means more industries in England will adopt it.
“What SunSkips sends for refinement is used here in England. However, a lot of SRF is exported to European countries, mainly to the Netherlands. But with more SRF facilities popping up, exports will dwindle and domestic demand will grow.”
With more SRF and RDF (refuse derived fuel) being used domestically, we’re already seeing positive changes. Exports to the EU fell by more than a third between 2019 and 2020, according to the Environment Agency.
While these figures reflect the impact of COVID-19 on commercial waste management services, as well as new export taxes in the Netherlands and Sweden, it does continue a downward trend in SRF exports.
But setting up an SRF processing facility is no mean feat. According to Mathew, preparing waste to be used as SRF is “a fine art” and careful consideration must be given to balancing the efficacy of the fuel and the cost to process it.
“It’s not as straightforward as it seems,” says Mathew. “Dry it too much and it won’t produce as much electricity or heat. Dry it too little, and you have higher gate fees at the processing plant.”
Despite a growing trend in SRF use in England, experts warn that unless more facilities open in England, and the demand for SRF increases, we could see a return to the same levels of exporting as in previous years once post-Brexit legislation is in place. Fortunately, SunSkips is already becoming part of the solution.
Mathew added, “We are expecting to add more SunSkips sites south of Cambridge and in North East Suffolk in the coming year, and SRF is a big part of our strategy there too.”
SunSkips is using green waste management strategies to process more and more of England’s waste, both for domestic skip hire and commercial projects. Call 01449360032 to discuss your waste management needs, or use our online booking platform to hire a skip today.