This is day 3 of climate week and today’s visit took us to Lower Melville Wood landfill site. This title may mislead as waste to landfill is only a little part of the processes happening here. At the Council we recognise that waste is a resource, so Lower Melville Wood is a resource management centre. Proper management of the waste enables it to be used to the benefit of both the community and the environment. It currently costs the Council about £95 for every tonne of waste that it disposes of by way of landfill. Last year the Council landfilled 112,000 tonnes of waste at a cost of over £10 million. By 2021, because of legislative changes, the costs will be 50% greater. It is absolutely vital, therefore, that the Council minimises the waste that it puts into a hole in ground and, as a consequence, minimises pollution, which is why it is urging everyone to recycle or reuse as much as possible. The money that is not spent on landfill can then be invested in better services for the people of Fife.
As an alternative to landfill, some waste is processed so that it can be used as a ‘Refuse Derived Fuel’ suitable for power generation and sold to Scandinavia.
Scrap wood from around the UK is processed into wood chip for use in biomass boilers. The woodchip is used by the biomass boiler at Markinch and will soon be used to heat homes in Glenrothes. Some of the processed wood is also sold and used as animal bedding.
All this on-site processing eliminates the need to transport the pollutants off-site, which of itself helps to reduce the Council’s carbon footprint.
All landfilled waste produces a highly polluting liquid called ‘leachate’. In Fife, the leachate is purified on-site and finally treated via an on-site reed bed system before being discharged into a water course. Landfilled waste also produces methane gas, which is a powerful ‘Green House Gas’. In Fife, this gas is collected and used to power turbines, which produce electricity which is either sold to the national grid or used to heat public buildings and dwelling houses. In addition, the roof of the MRF (the waste shed) has a 49 kW solar array and on site there is also a 500 kW wind turbine. The site, therefore, generates as much low carbon energy as is possible and secures income for the Council.
I was joined on-site today by a number of my colleague councillors, who were equally well impressed with what they saw and heard. Incidentally, we all travelled there in the council’s new environmentally friendly electric people carrier and electric pool car.
What was reinforced today is that waste is too valuable to be thrown in the ground. We need to think twice before we put things in our landfill bin. The less we put in landfill bins the less money is wasted in landfill costs. Charity shops are waiting to take your clothes, books, furniture and small electric goods. Zero Waste’s website offers further ideas on reusing and recycling your waste.
Last year Fife recycled the greatest amount in tonnes in Scotland. Let’s keep Fife leading the way in reaching Scotland’s zero waste target.
Lower Melville Wood resource management centre is a great example of how Fife thinks globally and acts locally
Til tomorrow, with best wishes,
Cllr Ross Vettraino