Croydon Camera Club
Croydon Camera Club

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Western Riverside Waste Authority (WRWA), 10 Aug 2011
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What a Load of Rubbish!

by Dave Newman

and Nina Ludwig

I am usually game for any photographic outing, but this time I surprised myself by going to a very unusual venue, literally a load of rubbish!

A brave group of six Croydon Camera Club members set off early on a bright Wednesday morning in two cars towards Wandsworth. The shoot at Western Riverside Waste Authority’s transfer station was organised by David Newman who also kindly provided the summary below giving some interesting information about the facility and our day there.

“Western Riverside Waste Authority (WRWA) transfer station site is located on the south side of the river Thames, adjacent to Wandsworth Bridge. The Authority was established in 1986 as the statutory local government body responsible for undertaking the waste disposal (and recycling) requirements of four London boroughs; Hammersmith and Fulham, Lambeth, Wandsworth and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

WRWA currently manages approx. 500,000 tonnes of mainly household waste and recyclables generated annually by the 850,000 residents living within the four boroughs. Whilst an ever-increasing amount of this waste is recycled (about 30%), historically, the remaining unrecyclable waste has been transported to landfill in Essex via the river Thames, via barge, in standard ISO containers. Each barge accommodates 30 containers and the tugs used to tow them normally take two barges at a time. This avoids thousands of heavy lorry journeys through central London each year as each lorry could only transport one container at a time. With landfill capacity now limited in the south east however, most of the waste previously landfilled is now being used to generate electricity at a new river-based Energy from Waste (EfW) Incinerator facility located in Belvedere, Kent. This produces approx. 66megawatts of power, which is sufficient to power around 80,000 households.

The CCC group (Nina Ludwig, Roy King, Graham Cluer, Peter Adrados; Mike Farley and Dave Newman) had a guided tour around the waste transfer station, including an opportunity to observe and photograph from an elevated walkway overlooking the river, the incoming barges as they were changed over by the lightermen and tugs employed by WRWA’s contractor Cory Environmental Ltd.

There was also a guided tour around the new state-of-the-art “Materials Reclamation Facility” (or MRF); this sorts all the mixed dry recyclables into single commodity streams that are first baled and then sold on into industry as secondary raw materials for use in making new products. This new £25 million plant processes over 84,000 tonnes of dry recyclables annually. Incorporating the latest technology, it sorts mixed recyclables into bales of plastic, ferrous and non ferrous metal cans, and paper. The glass collected is used in making aggregate.

All those attending found the trip enjoyable and informative and the club is indebted to the staff at WRWA for agreeing to the visit and in particular to Steve Ford, the Operations Manager, who personally supervised the tour and answered the many questions asked by the group.”

So, when I said “ what a load of rubbish” I did mean it!

Despite that we managed to take quite a number of interesting pictures, some of which you can see below, while others will no doubt make an appearance at the camera club’s competitions in the new season.