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We have set an ambitious target to lead the way for waste management in the water industry - our aim is to divert 100% of our waste across the whole business from being sent to landfill by 2020.
We are the only water company that has committed to ensuring all waste from across the business avoids a trip to a landfill site.
Already within reach of the target, we have achieved over 97% diversion from landfill. The remaining 3% comprises items such as contaminated soil and construction wastes that are difficult to reuse or recycle. One hundred per cent of our office waste is already diverted from landfill.
Our approach is being embraced throughout the business, including during major construction schemes. For example, the new underground reservoir at Summerslade Down, near Warminster - part of the £230 million water supply grid scheme - was constructed using over 40,000 tonnes of materials recycled on site.
This is material that would normally be sent to a recycling facility which mean that it not only reduced vehicle movements, it also saved costs and carbon emissions from purchasing and transporting new building materials.
As well as construction, we are also enforcing the zero waste promise throughout day-to-day operations, including the sewage treatment process.
Plastic, paper and sanitary material from non-flushable items such as wet wipes and nappies that are screened out from sewage treatment works, as well as grit from the road falling into sewers are traditionally sent straight to landfill.
Instead, at Avonmouth sewage treatment works, our subsidiary company GENeco composts these materials, as well as that from other companies, and is currently in discussion with the Environment Agency to determine the agricultural benefits of the resulting compost-like output. The results are already gaining interest from farmers due to its nutrient content and soil improving qualities.
Diverting all waste to landfill is just one of many initiatives we are rolling out over the next five years to help the environment.
A valuable by-product of sewage treatment, we treat sludge to a high standard by adding lime or through anaerobic digestion. We already recycle 100% of sludge to farmland.
This treatment helps to stabilise the sludge, reduce odours and remove pathogens so that it is suitable for recycling to farmland. This is carried out under strict regulations and we consistently achieve 100% compliance.
In addition to nutrients, sludge has a calorific value. Anaerobic digestion converts the organic matter into biogas which can be used to generate renewable electricity.
Around 60% of the sludge we treat is digested; this will increase as we make improvements to digestion sites and reduce lime treatment.