Where do you think the waste you put in black bins in Leeds goes to? Landfill? It did, but not any longer.
The way that Leeds City Council gets rid of household waste has recently undergone a radical change. And two Leeds churches have decided to visit the new Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) to find out more.
The state-of-the-art building in Cross Green in East Leeds began operating 12 months ago. It removes recyclable waste from black bins and recovers energy from what is left over, significantly reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.
Jill Jones, who recently paid a visit to RERF with a group from St Edmund’s Roundhay, says, “The building is absolutely huge and it was very interesting to learn that Leeds is the third best city in the country at recycling after Bristol and Newcastle.
“The city has a target to recycle 50% of domestic waste by 2020 – it’s currently at about 41%. 35% of our non-recycled waste is food and 12% is textiles, so that’s where we need to concentrate our efforts.
“We climbed many stairs up to great heights – with a pretty awful background smell! Probably the most interesting part was seeing the waste being picked up by an enormous grab and being put in the furnace.
"The heat from the combustion process is used to turn water into steam which then powers a turbine to generate around 13MW of electricity for export to the National Grid”.
The striking and innovative glass and timber framed building is 42m high and is seen as a positive landmark for the Aire Valley. One of its notable features is its colossal green ‘living’ wall, which, planted with shrubs particularly attractive to insects, enhances the visual impact and provides biodiversity. The wall is one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
There’s also a visitor centre that gives people the chance to learn more about the facility and waste and recycling in Leeds.
St Chad’s Headingly will also be visiting RERF on 20 June.