The City Council is set to upgrade its plans for a recycling centre in the city to create an automated site that council officers say would rank as one of the best in the world.
At this week’s Cabinet meeting Councillors are being asked to agree an extra loan of £1.9 million to help make the planned Materials Recycling Facility in Whitley bigger.
If everything goes to plan it would help Coventry and neighbouring authorities save millions of pounds in the years ahead, bring in revenue and support the drive to make the city a model for green technology.
Many local residents opposed the plans when they were considered by Planning Committee in January. Twenty nine letters of objection were received against the proposed London Road Material Recycling Facility behind Coventry & Solihull Waste Disposal Company.
Concerns were raised about traffic on the already heavily congested road system nearby, noise pollution, the impact on air quality and the new Charterhouse Heritage Park, the smell of burning waste and plastic packaging and the loss of local wildlife, trees and a former green belt site.
Historic Coventry Trust (HCT), which is restoring the Grade I Listed Charterhouse, did not object to the proposal but expressed concerns that the proposal could have a detrimental affect on the new park as well the landscape features and wildlife.
The Council first put forward plans for the MRF in 2019, in partnership with six other local authorities in the region. The expanded plan will now cater for two additional local authorities. With improvements in technology over the past two years officers are now recommending an expansion of the project which will require extra investment.
Currently the Council sends all recyclable materials – glass, plastic, metal and paper – to commercial firms in the city. In 2018/19 it cost the Council over £1.6m. It is estimated that the new plant will save around £1.4m a year and will provide an opportunity to bring in revenue in future years.
In upgrading the plans, the Council will be able to build a bigger, fully automated plant that will produce purer materials, suitable for the evolving market in recycled goods, processing around 175,000 tonnes of waste every year.
Councillor Patricia Hetherton, cabinet member for city services said: “Recycling has improved dramatically in recent years, with people being more able, and willing, to recycle household waste. There is also greater market for recycled materials as people become more environmentally-aware.
“If we do not seize this opportunity and invest now, we will be forced to either abandon our plans completely and return to paying private firms to handle our recyclables, or build a facility that would soon be too small and out of date.
“In making this wise investment we can create a state-of-the-art facility that will be the most advanced of its kind in the UK, and potentially one of the most advanced MRFs around the world, featuring the latest robotic technology.”
The MRF will be operated by Sherbourne Recycling Limited; the wholly-owned Local Authority company being established to manage the facility.
The eight Partner Councils behind Sherbourne Recycling, who are all investing the capital to build the new facility, include Coventry City Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Stratford District Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, Walsall Council and Warwick District Council, who joined the Project in November.
The plans will be discussed at Cabinet on 9 March, and by Full Council on 16 March.