Staffordshire and Oxfordshire County Councils
Staffordshire and Oxford Highways have created the first fully closed recycling loop for gully waste working in collaboration with Combined Drier Technology (CDT) Ltd, MTS Environmental have provided consultancy support throughout the trials and implementation of the scheme. These are the first highways authorities and county councils to achieve this feat and re-use gully waste back in roads schemes.
Gully waste is a very difficult material to manage due to its nature, source and moisture content. Typically, gully waste is taken to an appropriate facility for treatment before being sent to landfill. This comes at a great cost economically to the highways industry, but also environmentally as it uses large quantities of water for treatment, causes CO2 emissions through transport/machinery and is a waste of potential resource as it is disposed of at landfill.
Staffordshire and Oxfordshire Highways now save cost and increase the sustainability of their roads whilst working towards net zero carbon by reducing carbon emissions. This fully closed recycling loop is achieved by sending Staffordshire gully waste collected from roads to a recycling site for treatment conducted by CDT where they dry the material using their permitted mobile mineral drier. The dried gully waste is then blended to produce a BS 3882 compliant topsoil, a very comprehensively graded material, which can be reused back on highways as topsoil, for example on verges or planting schemes.
CDT collaborated with MTS Environmental to set up a mineral drying operation processing gully waste (more can be read about this project here). Gully waste is run through the machine to reduce the moisture content to ~8% and produce a material that can be reused. This material has then been blended with additional nutrients and material to produce a high-quality topsoil. Significant research and trials have been completed as part of this project whereby MTS Environmental led on managing the chemical analyses in order to achieve compliance.
MTS Environmental used their waste classification, chemical analysis and reuse knowledge to make this project a success, turning it from a trial to an implemented fully closed loop recycling operation. This reuse of gully waste is a huge step in the right direction for achieving a circular economy. It is an example of best practice now in place at Staffordshire and Oxford Highways after innovative research and development instigated by MTS Environmental. This can and should be implemented around the country in other Highways authorities to increase recycling within the industry and reduce the demand for virgin topsoil.
See https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/institutes/sustainable-earth/the-recon-soil-project for more information on projects seeking to protect topsoil resources.