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Cumbria Council has just announced a massive £700 million deal to divert up to 90% of its waste from landfill in a move that will see much of the county’s waste sent to mechanical biological treatment (MBT) plants. MBT turns waste into energy – and also gets rid of the methane which is produced as waste decomposes in landfill – methane is a greenhouse gas twenty times more harmful than CO2. Waste is shredded, dried and transformed into Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF) which can then be burned to provide an alternative to fossil fuels. As well as slashing the amount of waste sent to landfill the move to turning waste into energy may well reduce the council’s liability to millions of pounds in fines for exceeding landfill targets. The Company who are providing the new services, Shanks, will have a twenty five year contract with the Council and they will also manage Cumbria’s existing Household Waste Recycling Centres – at the moment Cumbria produces about 300,000 tonnes of waste and The Council and Shanks hope that of this total the MBT plants will process 120,000 tonnes, a further 150,000 tonnes will be recycled and just 10% will go to landfill.
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