by Fiona Adams
Our party consisted of members of the GCSE Group:
- Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member, Green, Smart and Sustainable City
- Councillor Claire Spencer
- Members of Moseley Forum Committee
- Members of Moseley Society Committee
- John Newson, who came as a member of the Moseley Society with a special interest in waste management
We were told:
Tyseley is operated at present under a 25 year contract with Birmingham City Council, which began on 17 January 1994. It is due for renewal in 2019.
Waste has ⅓rd the calorific value of coal, nationally 47% goes to landfill. The plant at Tyseley minimises Birmingham’s use of landfill, saving landfill tax, haulage costs, greenhouse gas emissions, recovering ferrous metal and with the IBA (incinerator bottom ash) being used as construction/road making material.
The make-up of Birmingham’s household waste arriving at Tyseley is investigated on a quarterly basis and there is still a good deal that could be recycled. But the amount of recyclable materials being taken to the Four Ashes plant is increasing, and when the majority of the 106,000 properties served by Redfern Depot moved to wheelie bins at the end of November 2014, the reduction in household waste arriving at Tyseley was noticeable.
We were told how the plant operates, and how the boiler temperature is kept at the required level – by altering the rate at which waste is added and by using fuel oil when necessary. When the free green-waste service was withdrawn the boiler temperature fell as people had added wet green waste to their refuse.
The two streams of refuse are burned at 850°c. There is a separate incinerator for clinical waste where the temperature must reach 1100°c.
We were told about the way dioxins and other dangerous gases are safely removed. Bonfire night is by far the greatest creator of dioxins in the UK. Coal burning, traffic, metal processing, crematoria and garden bonfires all produce dioxins.
Information on emissions is available from the Veolia website at
[although it is very hard to read because of the lack of contrast between some of the text and background. CtrlA highlights it all so you can then read it].
You can download a brochure about the Tyseley ERF at
At present Birmingham recycles 31% of its waste. The current target is 40%. The plant at Four Ashes, Wolverhampton, is a ‘Dirty MRF’ (as opposed to a Wet MRF). MRF= Materials Recycling Facility.
The materials are emptied into a ‘trummel’ – a rotating tunnel which separates out the materials by relative weight. The materials in separated streams enter the ‘picking shed’ where people pick out the items which cannot be recycled. About 5-7% of the material presented by householders for recycling is unsuitable and returned to Tyseley for incineration.
Questions we raised and which we still want answers to include these, but I am sure that others will want to add more:
- Why can’t we add Tetra Paks doorstep recycling as is possible in some other local authority areas? In Birmingham they must be taken to special collection points at Civic Amenity sites at Lifford Lane, Tyseley etc see http://tetrapakrecycling.co.uk/tp_locator_2014_council.asp?area=West%20Midlands&council=birmingham and see http://tetrapakrecycling.co.uk/protect-whats-good-environment-recyclable.asp for more information about how they can be recycled. Looks as though they all have to go to Halifax. What happens to Tetra Paks taken to the few collection points in Birmingham?
- Why can’t black plastic food trays be recycled in Birmingham? See http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/recyclability-black-plastic-packaging-0
- When is food waste going to be collected and composted?
- What happens to glass separated into clear, green or brown bottle banks on the road side, supermarket car parks or at the Civic Amenity sites?
As a result of this visit I have been asked to:
- Arrange a visit to the MRF at Four Ashes
- Arrange a visit to the Smurfit Kappa SSK paper recycling facility in Nechells see http://www.smurfitkappa.com/vHome/co-uk/SSK/Pages/Default.aspx
- Arrange a public meeting with a speaker who can answer all the questions we have about how and where Birmingham’s recycling is done, and what are the costs and benefits involved. This is something Moseley Forum and Moseley Society has long been seeking but we need to find someone who can answer questions about mixed recycling, glass, paper, food, green waste – and more.