MBT - Mechanical Biological Treatment or Bio-MRF as it is sometimes referred to, treats the household waste that doesn't go into the re-cycling bins.
After any potential further recyclables are removed, (the Mechanical bit) the residual waste undergoes Biological Treatment (i.e. shredding and drying) that ultimately produces a dried and stabilised product from which further recyclates can be extracted (e.g. metals and glass), an organic component (potentially suitable for composting) and a material which can be used for energy generation known as Secondary Recovery Fuel (SRF).
SRF can be used to replace fossil fuels in the generation of energy, is a‘cleaner’ power source than coal and has almost the same calorific value.
The MBT on Frog Island in the Thames was the first MBT
facility in England and there are approximately 70 MBT's currently operating in Europe. Its handles 180,000 tonnes of waste per annum - Pinkham Way is going to handle 240,000 tonnes per annum - so that would be 33% bigger then!. It should also be noted that Frog Island is 1.4 km away from the nearest home and is now seeking planning permission to build a power station next door that will be powered by its 'finished product'
A solution to the waste crisis?
The majority of the municipal waste we produce in the UK can be re-used or recycled, and with intensive waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and composting schemes the amount of residual municipal waste that is produced will reduce over time.
Research has shown that high recycling and composting followed by MBT is one of the best ways to treat waste in terms of climate change, and maximizes our resource efficiency. Removal of recyclables should be maximized, then the small amount of waste remaining should be disposed of to landfill, unless sufficiently clean to be used as compost. These processes should occur in small, localised treatment plants.
Proposals for MBT plants that meet these criteria are less likely to be met with public opposition than proposals for incinerators. MBT also has many other advantages over incineration - the technology is more flexible, the plants can be built on a small scale and can be modular in design. They are also cheaper and quicker to build. There is a lack of awareness and understanding of MBT, which offers activists an opportunity to engage with their councils to promote it. However, Friends of the Earth will not support MBT plants that: