Recovering energy from our waste

30th March 2017

Residual waste is any waste material that cannot be viably recycled. However, although this material cannot be recycled, it does represent an important source of energy. 

There are several processes that can be used to recover energy from residual waste, such as incineration in specialist energy from waste plants, methanation or the production of Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) which converts the waste into solid fuel to replace coal used inenergy-intensive industries, such as cement works.

SUEZ CERC  Cornwall please credit paulbox©

An Energy-from-waste plant transforms waste into electricity, heat or steam, which can be used to supply electricity grids and local  heating networks or can be reintroduced into industrial processes.
Energy recovery offers a competitive alternative to burying waste on storage sites (ie landfill), to fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.


  • SUEZ , an energy producer

By commissioning four new Energy-from-waste plants (three in the UK[1] and one in Poland[2])in 2017, SUEZ boosts its treatment capacity and will recover over nine million tons of waste in 55 plants in Europe. 7TWh[3] of energy will be sold to electricity network operators, which is the equivalent to the annual consumption of a city with 2 million inhabitants, such as Vienna, Hamburg or Bucharest, and will avoid more than 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions.

“Waste can become secondary raw materials. Waste that cannot be recycled is also an energy resource with three benefits as it is local, low-carbon and affordable for both local public authorities and industries. We are convinced of the growth potential for the Group in Europe and on international markets. Our ambition is to recover more than 10 million tonnes of waste as sustainable energy by 2020”, comments Jean-Marc Boursier, Group Senior Executive VP in charge of Recycling & Recovery Europe at SUEZ.

  • Visit our new plants

United Kingdom – an alternative to landfill disposal

In 1988, SUEZ won its first waste management contract in the UK. At this time, the country produced 400 million tonnes of waste a year, most of it ending up as landfill. To comply with EU directives, the UK started recovering energy from its waste instead. Today, SUEZ provides solutions and services to almost 12 million people and treats over 9 million tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste.

In 2013, West London Waste Authority signed a 25-year Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the recovery of residual waste into energy. The consortium, led by SUEZ in partnership with Scottish Widows Investment Partners and ITOCHU Corporation, designed, financed and built the waste-to-energy plant and will now operate the facility, with a process capacity of 300,000 tonnes of waste a year.


The residual waste produced by 1.6 million inhabitants of West London will now be transported by rail to the new Severnside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC). The 34 MW facility will produce electricity to power the equivalent of 50,000 households and could also provide hot water to local businesses. The plant will enable 96% of waste to be diverted from landfill for recovery.

In 2014, SUEZ and its Sembcorp Utilities UK and ITOCHU Corporation partners signed a 30-year PPP contract with Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA).
The consortium financed, built and will now operate the new facility, which will recover over 430,000 tons of residual household waste a year into energy for the equivalent of 63,000 households. The facility is also capable of providing heat to local businesses and factories.
Residual waste will be collected and transported by rail to a new transfer station, before being taken to the 49-megawatt waste-to-energy facility at Wilton International industrial estate at Teesside.
The solution will enable 92% of residual waste to be diverted from landfill and will also reduce CO2 production by approximately 130,000 tons a year compared with landfill disposal. The use of rail transport replaces the equivalent of 21,000 days of road transport a year.

SUEZ, Wilton plant. please credit paulbox©

Since 2006, SUEZ has been providing integrated solutions to help Cornwall Council sustainably manage its waste. The Group was awarded a contract to operate a new energy from waste facility, alongside 13 household waste recycling centres across the country. A total of 38% of all local authority waste produced in Cornwall is transformed into new materials and compost.
Building work on the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC), which manages 240,000 tons of waste a year, began in 2014. The facility could meet the equivalent annual energy requirements of 21,000 households.

Poland – full steam ahead for waste recovery!

Since it began its activities in Poland in 1992, SUEZ has been working to develop household waste management in the country. On 1st July 2013, a law came into effect, marking a new stage in this development. Under the new legislation, local authorities are responsible for collecting and treating their waste. SUEZ has been awarded contracts with 15 large towns, with almost 2 million people now benefiting from the Group’s services.
In 2013, Poznań, the fifth largest city in Poland, awarded SUEZ and Marguerite Waste Polska, a subsidiary of the Marguerite Investment Fund, a contract to build and operate a waste-to-energy plant. It was Poland’s first and largest PPP.
The 25-year contract included the construction of a waste-to-energy facility that would produce heat to supply the local authority’s heating networks. Using incineration and cogeneration processes[1], the plant could process up to 210,000 tons of waste a year and cover the yearly demand of a city with 35.000 inhabitants.

ITPOK Fot. Adam Ciereszko

[1] Wilton (near Newscastle), Severnside (near Bristol) and Cornwall
[2] Poznań
[3] This figure only includes the energy produced by EfW plants and not the part coming from Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) and biogas.
[4] These processes produce both heat and electricity at the same time.

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