Revealed: The biggest carbon dioxide polluters in Suffolk

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker

The waste incinerator at Great Blakenham. Photograph Simon Parker - Credit: Archant

The biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in Suffolk are four "green" power stations and two food factories in Bury St Edmunds, data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — the largest single cause of global warming — dropped by 42% between 2005-2019 in Norfolk and Suffolk. This fall is in line with national averages.

According to data reported to the Environment Agency by industry bosses, the single largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the county is the waste incinerator at Great Blakenham.

The facility — operated by SUEZ recycling and recovery UK — burns rubbish to produce enough electricity for 30,000 homes.

In 2016, it was rated as 'outstanding' by an international green energy assessor, however since then its emissions have risen. In 2019 it produced 322.54 kilotonnes — or 322,000 tonnes — of CO2.

John Tatton, plant manager, said: "SUEZ and Suffolk County Council work with the wider Suffolk Waste Partnership (SWP) to reduce the carbon impact from managing Suffolk’s waste by supporting the waste hierarchy, prioritising waste reduction, reuse and recycling, and improving the carbon performance of the Suffolk energy-from-waste facility.

"Alongside this work, SUEZ is investing in the development of carbon capture and storage technology to capture the carbon dioxide from energy-from-waste facilities and working on projects to increase the range of plastics that can be recycled which will reduce the carbon content of residual waste.”

Paul Geater has a look in the incinerator at the Energy from Waste Site in Great Blakenham.

Paul Geater has a look in the incinerator at the Energy from Waste Site in Great Blakenham in 2015. - Credit: SIMON PARKER

Second on the list is the British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds, which emitted more than 280 kilotonnes of CO2 in 2019. 

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A spokesman for the company said: “We have clear plans to reduce our carbon footprint, and continue to focus on energy reduction and efficiency at all of our sites, including at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.

"We have a long history of investing in technology to decarbonise our operations – from investing in anaerobic digestion to utilising heat and CO2 in our greenhouses – and a strong pipeline of energy and carbon reduction plans in which we will continue to invest.

“We are committed to reducing our CO2 footprint by 30% by 2030, and continue to make progress towards this. With some of our sites being very remote, we also continue to explore partnering with others locally on work to reduce emissions, for the benefit of the wider region.”

Other companies on the list include Fibropower, which runs a poultry waste incinerator in Eye, Greencore Maltings Group, which owned Pauls Malt in Bury St Edmunds in 2019, Viridor, a waste disposal company that operates another energy-from-waste facility, and Stericycle, a recycling group.  

The British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds where a new animal feed mill is planned

The British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds where a new animal feed mill is planned - Credit: Su Anderson

Eddie Wilkinson, chief executive of EPR which runs Eye Power Station, said: "Eye Power Station provides a secure and sustainable disposal route for around 80,000 tonnes per annum of agricultural residues from the local area, predominantly poultry litter, plus 50,000 tonnes of grade C waste wood.

"Whilst we have not confirmed the source or accuracy of your data, Eye Power Station’s combustion process does produce CO2 emissions, however, these would be released to the environment in any event if these residues were spread to land or land-filled, which would be the only available disposal routes were it not for Eye Power Station.

"The renewable electricity generated by Eye Power Station reduced CO2 emissions by around 19,500 tonnes in the twelve-month period ended 30 June 2021.

"This was achieved by displacing the equivalent amount of generation from alternative technologies including coal and gas, and is calculated using the assessment of the UK’s average electricity emissions provided by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy."

A spokeswoman for waste management group Viridor said the company's plants met all environmental standards, but the firm is still working to cut its environmental impact.

She said: "The company is investing in carbon capture for potential deployment at its plants. This commitment is one element of its decarbonisation plan, that commits Viridor to Net-Zero by 2040 and to be the first net negative emissions waste company in the UK by 2045."

Stericycle and Pauls Malt have been contacted for comment.