The official closure of Packington Landfill Site was marked by an open day for past and present employees of the landfill.
At its height of operation, over 2,000 lorries each day delivered waste from homes and businesses in and around Birmingham to Packington Landfill Site – and around 35 million tonnes of waste is now buried there.
Geraint Rees, General Manager (Landfill) for SITA UK, said: “Packington is somewhat renowned throughout the waste industry. It was once the busiest site in Europe, but it also had the reputation for leading the way in landfill technology.
“It was the first site in the country to produce electricity from landfill gas – it has been producing enough renewable energy to power an area the equivalent of nearby Coleshill for the last 25 years, and is likely to continue doing so for another 20 years.
“It has also led the way in introducing high-tech solutions to make sure the pollutants caused by decaying waste are effectively contained, collected and treated – so they don’t cause harm to local people or wildlife. This has included a new leachate treatment plant, which opened on site last year.”
The introduction of the Landfill Tax in 1996 prompted the move away from landfill, in favour of processes which put the waste to better use.
Composting was introduced at Packington in 2004 and now almost 50,000 tonnes of green waste is turned into compost products for use on local farms and agricultural projects each year.
In 2008 wood shredding also started on site and, each year, up to 70,000 tonnes of waste wood is turned into a range of biofuel products.
Not far from Packington, at Malpass Farm in Rugby and at Landor Street in Birmingham, SITA UK is now turning household and business waste, which would have historically gone to landfill, into a high-specification fossil fuel replacement to power the manufacturing of cement products.
However, SITA UK’s commitment to Packington does not end with the closure of the landfill. Composting, wood shredding and electricity production will all continue, alongside the necessary leachate treatment, for many years to come.
Over the next few years, the site will be restored with meadows, woodland areas, lakes and public footpaths – giving local people a brilliant viewpoint over the airport, Birmingham and the HS2 rail line, which will pass close by.
Some restoration work has already been completed, but a further 400,000 tonnes of soil and compost are needed on site before the restoration is complete.
The site, through its staff, customers and interested parties, has developed a unique heritage.
In addition to the landfill operation, the site has been used by a number of different groups, from the bee keepers of Warwickshire, who had hives on the site and produced ‘Tip’ony Honey, to the fire brigade who used to practise four-wheel driving on the old quarry pits.
Sections of the site, and the roads leading to them, are all named after staff and customers, past and present. One of the larger features of the site, Tom’s Lake, was named after Tommy Richardson, who once owned the biggest skip company in Birmingham and whose ashes were scattered on the landfill when he died.