Lafarge to use sewage pellets as new fuel

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In a move which will help reduce its carbon footprint and control escalating energy costs, Lafarge Cement UK has announced it is applying to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for permission to use Processed Sewage Pellets (PSP) as an additional waste-derived fuel at its Dunbar Works.

The Works has already managed to replace 40 per cent of its annual coal usage each year with the established waste-derived fuels, tyres and Recycled Liquid Fuel (RLF). Now the company would like to add PSP, a fuel classed as ‘carbon neutral biomass’.

Dunbar Works manager Nigel Blair explained that using PSP will not only be safe and cost-effective, it will also help reduce the site’s carbon footprint and support Scotland’s Zero Waste strategy.

He told the Berwickshire News: “Waste-derived fuels continue to offer many benefits to our business – they help us maintain our environmental performance, reduce our carbon footprint and manage our very high energy costs.

“At a time like this when we are operating in a very tough market, this fuel offers us an economically viable and environmentally beneficial way to protect the business for the future and safeguard jobs, as well as being part of Scotland’s waste solution.

“Working closely with Sapphire, our on-site experts on waste-derived fuels, we have proven that using RLF from the solvent industry and tyres in the cement-making process is a safe and effective way of recovering energy from these wastes – and reducing our costs. We now hope that PSP will allow us to take our coal replacement rate up over 50 per cent.”

Mr Blair said the fuel is made from heat treating the sludge remaining after sewage treatment; almost a million tonnes of this dry material is generated in the UK each year. While some ends up as agricultural fertiliser – in fact it is currently being considered for use on organic land – much is sent to landfill. Using it instead as a fuel will help the Scottish Government achieve its target to cut waste sent to landfill to less than five per cent by 2025.

He added: “PSP is already used as an effective fuel in the cement-making process in many countries including Austria, Spain, France and South Korea. It has also been used for over eight years at Dunbar’s Works’ sister plant in Cauldon, Staffordshire. It is very safe to handle and use, and has caused no issues whatsoever for staff or local people.

“We anticipate that by using 12,000 tonnes of PSP each year, over 7,000 tonnes of coal will be replaced and our carbon footprint will be reduced by the equivalent of taking 11,500 cars off the road.”

The company is consulting with the local community around Dunbar to find out people’s views on the plans to use PSP. A newsletter will be issued to local households, and exhibitions and a dedicated website will be announced.

Mr Blair continued: “As with all significant developments at this plant, we are keen to let our neighbours know about our plans to use PSP and encourage them to come along to one of these exhibitions to find out more. Supported by other members of my team, I will be there to answer any questions local people may have. We are keen to hear all views and those views will be fed back to SEPA as part of the consultation.”