Rubbish facts

Every working day we collect and landfill about 555 tonnes of rubbish. It costs around £185 to collect and dispose of a tonne of rubbish.  That’s £26,695,000 a year just to throw away our rubbish.  See our waste facts for more about Cornwall’s rubbish.

About 25% of the rubbish we collect every day could be recycled.  It only costs £110 to collect and recycle a tonne of rubbish.  If everyone used the recycling collection service, we could save almost £2,706,000 a year. See our reduce, reuse, recycle page for ways to cut your waste and increase your recycling.

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There are also resources for schools to help teach children about recycling and waste.

All household waste either goes to one of our waste transfer stations or directly to the Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre (CERC). The rubbish that goes to the transfer station is loaded into larger Lorries and then taken to the CERC.

At the CERC, the household waste is received within an enclosed building and tipped into a large bunker where the waste is mixed to ensure an even burn in the furnace. Induced draft fans are used to draw air from the tipping hall and bunker into the combustion process in order to reduce odours. The waste is loaded by a crane into a feed hopper and then it travels down a chute to the furnace.

Inside the furnace a series of rollers moves the waste through the furnace where it is dried and burned at temperatures of around 1,000 degrees centigrade.

Burning this waste creates hot flue gases which travel through a boiler transferring the heat of the gases to water that runs through boiler pipes. The heated water evaporates becoming steam. The steam drives the turbine which then generates electricity, which is exported to the National Grid. Some steam is also used to heat various parts of the site including the offices.

Bottom ash left over after burning the waste drops into a quench tank, then along a conveyor into the adjacent bottom ash treatment plant. Ferrous and non-Ferrous metals are separated and sent off for recycling. The remaining product (incinerator bottom ash aggregate) is also separated by size and can be used in the construction industry as a secondary aggregate.

The gases from the burned waste are thoroughly cleaned to neutralise acid gases and remove the dioxins and heavy metals. The gases are then passed through a fine fabric filter to capture particles before being released through a chimney. Prior to release, the cleaned gases are monitored using the continuous emissions monitoring system to ensure that the emissions are fully in line with the Environmental Permit.

Residues from the flue gas treatment process, called the Air Pollution Control Residues (APCR), are then loaded into lorries and sent to landfill. The APCR produced corresponds to a very small proportion of the waste treated at the CERC.

You can find out more about your recycling and where it goes and learn about recycling myths with our fact sheets.