An update on the SinCH visits to Veolia

On the 9th and 11th April 2024 two SinCH groups visited the Veolia Waste to Energy facility at Four Ashes near Cannock, 1 of 10 Energy Recovery Facilities managed by Veolia in the UK.

Here’s what we found out.

Veolia ERF at Four Ashes

Following a granted planning application in February 2011, Staffordshire County Council signed a 25 years contract with Veolia. The Four Ashes site construction completed late 2013 and all the domestic Green Bin waste is now processed there.

This facility costed 180 M£ , it is estimated it would now cost 3 times this amount. The site runs 24h / 7 days / week employing a total of 40 persons all travelling within a 30 miles radius.

An Energy Recovery Facilities (or ERF) is where waste is safely incinerated to recover electricity so it reduces the use of fossil fuels, cuts emissions of greenhouse gases and reduces dependence on landfill.

The site processes 340,000 tonnes of waste per year and generates 29 Megawatts per year, powering 66,000 houses in the Cannock area.

Our Visit : We first had a presentation in the conference room where our host talked about the history of the site, the values of Veolia and how the site currently performs.

We then had a guided visit, the first image shows the control station overseeing the incoming waste and moving it towards the furnace by the means of a huge grabber. The second photograph highlights the main control room, the various screens enable to monitor everything around the site and raising any alarms as and when required. The third photograph shows how you can get a snap shot of the furnace. The heat generated is then directed towards the generator to produce electricity.

Veolia and sustainability

Sustainability is high on the agenda, the site is powered by its own electricity. The roof is designed as grass roof and the site has been designed with biodiversity in mind.

Veolia also works closely with major companies promoting sustainability ideas, such as promoting a fully electric fleet in Westminster, helping a fast food retailer recycle their discontinued toys and creating peat free compost from collected garden waste.

Some statistics

Staffordshire currently recycles 53% of its waste aiming to reach 65% by 2030. Less than 2% of waste goes to landfill in Staffordshire. Landfill sites are a significant source of methane which is a potent Greenhouse Gas so avoiding further landfill is really important.

What can we do ourselves?

SinCH’s view is that it’s best to avoid unecessary stuff in the first place. Having said that, we also need to become more aware about the waste we produce, how we handle it and where it goes.

Be more aware of what should go in the green bin.

According to Veolia, in the average domestic green bin they find:

  • 10% clothes
  • 25% items which could be recycled
  • 29% Food waste
  • 36% other items

This means 64% of the average bin should not be thrown away !! Check the Borough Council’s website here for more information about what should go in each of your bins. Careful recycling, avoiding food waste and composting can make a real difference.

The Waste Savvy Staffs website provides more detailed info about these issues and how you can cut down your waste.

A good way to think about the problem is to use the diagram below – our first priority should be to reduce, then to re-use and so on down to the final option to put stuff in the green bin.

The 5 Principles of Waste Management

In addtion, we should also consider whether something can be repaired rather than replacing it – we have local Repair Cafes in Stafford, Lichfield and Uttoxeter which do a great job. Please check out SinCH’s Living More Sustainably webpage for their details and for more practical ideas about how to create less waste.

Finally, we would like to thank Veolia for hosting us and providing very interesting and enjoyable events – we think they found our SinCHers a lively bunch!

Mailing List

You are welcome to join our SinCH emailing list for regular updates on community news and events.

If you'd like to sign up, please contact us and request to receive our newsletter.


* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from SinCH:

We use Mailchimp to manage our emailing lists and by clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For more information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.