COUNCILLOR SAYS: Leeds should build a food recycling plant in Morley
An environmentally-friendly food waste plant should be built in “somewhere like Morley”, according to a senior Leeds city councillor.
Coun Barry Anderson (Con), who chairs the city’s environment scrutiny board, suggested that the council should “think the unthinkable” and consider whether to introduce a West Yorkshire-wide anaerobic digester facility to help recover bio-gas from food waste.
His comments came at the beginning of an inquiry into the city’s waste collection, following a summer of numerous missed collections, as well as a projected £5m overspend this year.
Speaking at a meeting of the council’s strategy and resources scrutiny board, Coun Anderson said: “The current budget allocated to this area is not capable of delivering the services with the time constraints. You do need more money to run the service – where it is going to come from, I don’t know.
“We might need to fund an anaerobic digester – it would go through the planning system, and we need to look at how we can start that work now and how much it would cost.
“Should there be a West Yorkshire facility for food waste? I don’t know. We need to look at the best place – maybe somewhere on the border, say around Morley – you would be able to take Wakefield and Kirklees in the same area.
“You might get economies of scale. We need to think the unthinkable.”
Anaerobic digestion is an environmentally friendly way of creating methane and carbon dioxide gas by using bacterias to break down organic waste, such as food. The gas can then be used as bio-fuel.
There are currently thought to be around 650 anaerobic digester plants in the UK, although many of these are used by private farms rather than for municipal waste.
While he didn’t address the possibility of an anaerobic digester in Leeds, the council’s executive member for environment Coun Mohammed Rafique (Lab) said: “At the moment, given the financing and resources, there is extra pressure as with the pandemic, more people are working from home, and there is extra packaging and waste.
“We have to look at it in the national context about what the govt have done so far – they have kicked the can down the road. Until we know their strategy, it is very difficult for us to move forward.
“We are going to look at practical and logistical stuff and how we do things differently. We have the biggest free garden collection service anywhere in the UK.
“We are leading on recycling on the go. They are small but positive steps.”
The inquiry into Leeds City Council’s waste services is expected to take place throughout the next year.
The council’s environment scrutiny committee will look at issues around the volumes of waste and what the city does with it, as well as the effects on the environment and how its current performance can be improved.
The council’s strategy and resources scrutiny board will focus on the cost and viability of alternative waste services and issues around recycling.
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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