Case Study: RAF Northolt - Grundon helps RAF Northolt achieve “Zero to Landfill” status

RAF Northolt is celebrating the news that it has become a “zero-to-landfill” site. The base, which has been implementing a series of green initiatives to reduce energy consumption and switch to renewable energy sources, was dissatisfied with its overall recycling performance.

The RAF Station was already benefiting from a mixed recyclables collection, and also recycling large quantities of mixed wood and glass bottles, but felt there must be more it could do. An approach was made to Grundon Waste Management who were invited to discuss Northolt’s waste streams in greater detail. As a result of these discussions and a site survey, Grundon was able to make a number of recommendations for improvement.

Residual, non-recyclable waste was being collected in waste wheeler bins as part of a larger round, and subsequently tipped at a landfill. The solution was to replace this with a dedicated vehicle which, when collections were complete, would take the non-recyclable waste to Grundon’s joint venture Lakeside Energy from Waste facility at Colnbrook, near Heathrow Terminal 5.

As a consequence of the RAF’s own international operations and also Northolt’s role as a London terminal for overseas corporate aircraft, Northolt also amasses significant quantities of International Catering Waste (Category 1), which is subject to separate regulations governing its treatment. Historically sent for deep burial at a landfill, Grundon’s recommendation was to install a 12 cubic yard rear-end loading bin for this waste stream, which would also be taken direct to the nearby Lakeside Energy from Waste facility.

Both of these non-landfill disposal services were implemented with effect from 1st April 2012 and in the first three months, 35 tonnes of non-recyclable waste were sent to Lakeside Energy from Waste rather than to landfill. Not only does this eliminate waste buried in landfill sites, but it also contributes to the supply of renewable electricity sent to the National Grid.

With Landfill Tax scheduled to rise by £8/tonne per year until 2014, RAF Northolt’s multi-year contract for Energy from Waste will also give the base an element of protection against disposal cost inflation for the next few years. Use of the Lakeside facility also helps to reduce the bases’ overall carbon footprint, since its close proximity to RAF Northolt reduces the amount of CO2 emissions resulting from road transport of the waste.

Station Commander Group Captain Tim O’Brien said, “This is great news and underlines our constant striving to be a good neighbour and embrace better ways of operating. For a site as large as RAF Northolt to switch to “zero to landfill” is a significant achievement of which we are proud.”

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