Pioneering plan to turn Worthing and Adur’s waste into power

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AROUND 40 tonnes of landfill waste will be converted into energy for Worthing and Adur a week, after the two councils have signed a ground-breaking agreement with a Lancing waste management company.

Adur and Worthing councils signed a deal with Rabbit Group to recover energy from commercial waste on a year-long trial basis.

Around 50 per cent of the total commercial waste collected by Worthing and Adur councils will be converted into energy by Rabbit every week. If this level of waste is maintained, the equivalent weight of 133 London buses will avoid being sent to landfill and instead will produce enough energy to power approximately 350 homes.

The disposal of commercial waste in this way has never before been tried by a local authority in West Sussex. The results from the trial will establish whether the waste disposal method is viable and practicable for a longer-term contract with a higher waste consumption.

Worthing and Adur councils have said their target is to divert 100 per cent of their waste away from landfill in the coming years. Cabinet member for Worthing, councillor Clive Roberts, said: “I welcome this agreement as it paves the way for what could be a very exciting future for the council’s commercial waste service.”

Adur councillor Keith Dollemore added: “Working with Rabbit Group to get more value from commercial waste is good for everyone. It helps the environment by not burying the waste, offers better value for customers and supports a local business.”

Rabbit Group, based in Chartwell Road, was founded in 1996 by siblings Mandy Bridson and Greg Blurton as a skip company. Over the past five years the company has developed the energy production side to the business. Commercial waste is sorted at the £15 million facility at Rabbit to separate the biomass – such as wood and paper – from the rest of the waste. While material such as plastic goes on to be recycled, the biomass is shredded and burnt in an incinerator.

The heat produced from the incinerator is then converted into steam, which is passed through a steam turbine to create electricity, with an output of approximately 11,000 volts. The electricity is then sold to the National Grid to be passed on to homes around the country.

The process is environmentally friendly, as all emissions are neutralised before being released into the atmosphere.

Co-managing director Greg Blurton said: “We believe this is the future of energy production. There are no down-sides to the process. We produce fewer harmful emissions than one cow does methane gas in a whole year.”

From all the waste contributions which the Rabbit Group receives in a year, the plant produces enough energy to power 8,000 homes, with 97 per cent of all material being recycled or converted into energy.

Mandy Bridson, co-managing director of Rabbit, said: “We would not have been able to get to this position if our customers and the community had not supported us from the very beginning. They have been very loyal and for that we are very grateful. We are excited for our partnership with Worthing and Adur councils and looking forward to the future.”