Leeds Recycling & Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) works

How does our Leeds Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility work?

Our Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility is designed to remove and sort recyclables before the combustion process. This state-of-the-art technology is a safe and efficient way of treating residual black bin waste.

The plant helps to increase recycling rates,  generate heat and electrical energy, and significantly reduces the amount of waste the city sends to landfill. 


In the Mechanical Pre-Treatment (MPT) process the black bin rubbish collected from the city and delivered to the facility is shredded and then sorted to extract any metal material that has been placed in the black bin. 
Using overband magnets and eddy current separators, ferrous and non-ferrous metals such as steel food and aluminium drink cans are removed. These materials are then sent to reprocessors where they can be made into new products. 

This plant can take out up to 2% of the waste for recycling, contributing  towards achieving Leeds recycling targets. 

As the recycling market develops, it may be possible to separate other recyclates in the future, further improving the overall recycling rate.

The Energy Recovery Process

The Energy Recovery Facility operates 24/7 and operates within the UK and EU standards for emissions to atmosphere. 

When all the recyclables have been removed the remaining waste is burnt in carefully controlled conditions. The heat from the combustion process is used to turn water into steam. The steam  then power a turbine to generate around 13MW of electricity for export to the National Grid.  This is enough to power in the region of 22,000 homes.

The ash (known as Incinerator Bottom Ash) that comes out of the end of the process, which can contain gravel-like remnants of glass, brick, stone, concrete and ceramics, are recycled into construction aggregate, which replaces quarried material in the production of asphalt and cement. 

Air pollution control

The gases from the boiler are extensively cleaned. This includes neutralising any acid gases, removing pollutants with ‘activated carbon’ and capturing fine particles with a fabric filter. The gas treatment residues known as Air Pollution Control Residues (APCr) are kept in enclosed storage on site and then transported safely to a licensed facility for further treatment and disposal. This APCr material is actually then used in further chemical processes and is used in industrial acid neutralisation.


District Heating

Steam from the RERF is utilised to provide heat energy to a District Heating Network which supplies energy to homes and businesses across the city of Leeds.

A District Heating Network is a system of underground pipes that delivers heat and hot water to buildings connected to that network. The Leeds district heating network transports heat & hot water from the Recycling and Energy Recovery Facility (RERF) across the city and into homes through an extensive 19 kilometre underground pipe network. Currently this provides low carbon heat and hot water to 1,983 council homes.