• Congo ministers get close up to waste management best practice

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Congo ministers get close up to waste management best practice

Dec 11 2009

A high level government deputation from one of Africa’s largest countries has made a special trip to the UK to gain first hand experience of international best practice in waste resource management. The visit was hosted by leading independent engineering and environmental consultancy Wardell Armstrong, and was part of a programme to help develop a funding strategy for a more modern waste management system.

The First Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure for the Katanga Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly known as Zaire) came to the UK in September. Their itinerary included site visits to Greater Manchester where Wardell Armstrong have played the key role in providing technical expertise for Europe’s largest ever waste PFI project.

The land area of Katanga is twice that of the UK. It includes the Congo’s second largest city, Lubumbashi, which has a population of 1.5 million people. Waste collection in the region is a relatively new concept, with a legacy of waste material being dumped into old mine workings and rivers or even left to pile up on street corners.

Ken Pearson, principal waste manager for Wardell Armstrong said: “Proposals had already been submitted to the Katanga government for a more modern and efficient waste resource management strategy. This UK visit was therefore an important step in giving our distinguished visitors extra confidence, adding credibility to our recommendations, and briefing them on legislation standards and current practices. It also allowed them to see for themselves some examples of modern sites engineered to the highest European standards.”

Wardell Armstrong, who are working in partnership with the Net Consultancy on the Katanga project, arranged visits to Viridor’s Pilsworth landfill site and to three Viridor Laing sites in Rochdale: a waste transfer facility at Entwistle Road, a refurbished household waste recycling centre at Waithlands, and a neighbouring new modern transfer loading station which is to be commissioned later this month.

The proposals for Katanga include household waste collection and transportation, bulking facilities at transfer stations with some separation of recyclables such as metals, glass and plastics, and disposal in well managed landfill sites following EU practices for the containment of emissions of gas, odours and leachate. These involve engineered barriers to protect groundwater from contamination, the abstraction and treatment of leachate, and odour control achieved by the covering of waste mass.

Waste to power is another significant element. By capturing methane via a gas management system, the Katanga government should be able to generate both electricity and additional revenue. “From our experience in the UK," said Ken Pearson, "we know that collecting landfill gas (methane) from waste and converting it to electricity has the potential to significantly reduce the emission of a potent greenhouse gas. It’s a win win all round."



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