A MUNICIPAL solid waste plant which opened in Swindon yesterday will divert 95 per cent of the town’s rubbish away from landfill – the only facility of its kind in the UK.

The facility at Waterside Park in Darby Close has been operating since the end of last year, though is not expected to be fully operational until April.

It is the result of a £6m loan from Swindon Council to Swindon Commercial Services, which will treat 48,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial waste a year.

And the waste be will be used to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and solid recovered fuel (SRF) as opposed to sending it to landfill.

These two types of fuel are then collected by firms to be used in their own incinerators, away from Swindon.

As a result of the commissioning of the plant, Swindon will now only send five per cent of its overall municipal waste to landfill and also save taxpayers’ money.

Coun Des Moffatt (Lab, Rodbourne Cheney) said it would cost the council, through SCS, £20 less per tonne to dispose of its waste through organisations taking away RDF and SRF rather than through landfill.

“This is fantastic. It’s one of the first in Europe,” said Coun Moffatt. “We mustn’t get carried away with this success and run before we can walk – there is a lot of work to do with recycling in Swindon still to do.”

James Owen, commercial director at SCS, has said the council is likely to save £16m over the course of their eight-year contract based on today’s landfill costs.

Mr Owen also forecast 80 per cent of the RDF and SRF created by the plant would go to UK customers.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs MP George Eustice was invited by Swindon MPs Robert Buckland and Justin Tomlinson to cut the ribbon at the plant yesterday.

He said: “This facility will benefit the council a huge amount in recycling. We all know we can’t keep putting the waste into landfill.

“They have set a very ambitious target to get to less than five per cent of waste going to landfill. I hope it works for them.”

Mr Tomlinson said: “This is fantastic and fascinating in equal measure. Once again Swindon is at the forefront of engineering technology.”

Mr Buckland said: “Swindon is leading the way here. This is an excellent example of how a local authority can help the environment and reduce the cost of landfill tax and save taxpayers’ money.”