Veolia has applied to the Environment Agency to alter its permit to allow the processing of healthcare orange bagged waste at its energy from waste plant in Tyseley, Birmingham.
According to the application, submitted in January 2020, Veolia wants to allow the treatment of healthcare orange bagged waste in the two non-hazardous lines that currently treat municipal solid, commercial, confidential and non-hazardous clinical waste.
The permit currently allows the plant to take in up 350,000 tonnes per annum of waste from Birmingham council and other sources, under a long term contract first signed in 1994.
Orange bagged waste includes heavy duty clinical waste which requires a heat treatment prior to incineration and disposal, and includes items such as contaminated swabs, gloves, paper towels, dressings, aprons and masks.
The consultation for the permit variation was opened last week (March 26) and will run until 27th April.
A Veolia spokesperson said: “This facility is an important part of our national infrastructure and by taking this approach to secure disposal in a facility designed to deal with it, and using technology which has been updated to be state of the art in terms of efficiency, we will be able to safely and securely dispose of this healthcare waste without any risk of impacts on health or the environment.”
The non-technical summary of the application says that the changes would be minimal in order to allow the variation.
The summary also states that the environmental impact of the changes has been assessed and concludes that burning the additional waste would not impact current emissions.
Veolia says that it has previously accepted orange bagged waste at its Energy Recovery Facilities in 2019 and successfully treated 2,700 tones of waste without any adverse environmental impacts.
The application follows the authorisation of incinerating orange bagged waste in England, after being “well established” in other European jurisdictions.
The changes required in order to allow the operation on a permanent basis have already been discussed at various levels during the pre-application process in April, July and December 2019, Veolia said.
Good luck Veolia.
It may be, as has happened previously, that the Environment Agency decision depends as much if not more on personal relationships than science and the formality of the regulatory process. However, I fully support this development, noting that it is not a new idea – I trialled it in the Isle of Man 10 years ago, and in France even farther back. It works, and works well with no problems or concerns.