residual waste

About Residual Waste

While arc21’s focus is on ‘Reducing, Re-using, Recycling (and Recovering)’, it’s not possible yet to do that for all types of waste. That material which can’t be recycled or composted is known as ‘residual waste’ – this is where recovery comes in...


At present, residual waste is sent to landfill but in line with UK legislation, the amount of waste going to landfill must be reduced to just 35% of its 1995 levels by 2020. Failure to achieve this target raised the prospect of large fines for councils, which would have ultimately been paid for by ratepayers. Thankfully, arc21’s partner councils met this target, but new targets directly associated with progressively increasing recycling rates have been introduced. This maintains the upward pressure to divert more waste from landfill as this method of disposal is increasingly recognised as being a major source of greenhouse gases in that the organic fraction of the waste rots to produce methane.  Over the timescale to meet Net Zero, this gas is 80%+ more impactful than CO2 and is a primary contributor to climate chaos.

arc21’s strategy for dealing with residual waste is set out in its Waste Management Plan, which proposes the use of Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) and Energy from Waste (EfW) – technologies which are already widely used in Great Britain and Europe.

How does the process work?

Residual waste (the contents of your black bin) will be forwarded to an MBT facility where recyclable and re-usable material is recovered mechanically. The remaining material can then be used as a ‘fuel’ for the EfW facility from which it produces heat and/or electricity which could power up to 30,000 homes.

The technology will enable arc21 to manage waste from the region in an efficient and more environmentally-friendly manner than landfill, providing something useful from waste which was previously just thrown into the ground.


Detailed information on the Residual Waste Project facilities can be obtained by accessing the project website: