Ten years ago, as many UK councils grappled with reducing the amount of waste going to landfill, North Yorkshire and York put their faith in an innovative idea from Amey, a relative newcomer to the environmental services market. The result is the UK’s first 3-in-1 waste plant. Technical director Paco Hevia shares the journey.

Allerton Waste Recovery Park makes a majestic impression as you drive north on the A1 through North Yorkshire, its gleaming structure emerging like a silver wave behind the trees. But that could just be me. I’ve been working on the project since we first put pen to paper in 2008 and I am perhaps a little too attached.

AWRP is unique in the UK for integrating three processes for the treatment of residual waste - mechanical treatment, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste (EfW) – and co-locating them on one site as a single installation.

The first maximises recycling, the second transforms organic matter into biogas and the third recovers from the remainder more than enough power for a town the size of Harrogate. It’s a successful example of 21st century circular economy in a traditionally rural environment.

Conceived on behalf of North Yorkshire and City of York councils as a solution for turning 320,000 tonnes of ‘black sack’ household waste a year into a resource instead of sending it to landfill, AWRP has weathered many challenges on the ten-year road from inception to full commissioning earlier this year. Yet through several iterations its design has remained state-of-the-art.