Our Bioresources business is responsible for the transport, treatment and recycling of sewage sludge. We take partially treated sewage and generate renewable energy and quality products that go to agriculture, thereby creating value from waste. The bioresources market is estimated to be worth up to £1.6bn in the UK and Yorkshire Water currently spends around 8% of its annual operating costs treating sludge.

Our AMP7 plans for bioresources centre around continuing to provide this high-quality service as efficiently as possible in the context of a growing population and extreme weather events. This includes by maximising energy generation at our sites and embracing the sludge treatment competitive market as part of an industry-wide effort to drive efficiency, boost resilience and deliver further innovation within the water sector. Our Bioresources plan for 2020 to 2025 also includes offering more opportunities for third-party companies to enhance how we transport, treat and recycle sludge.

Our Sites

Around 150,000 tonnes of sewage sludge are treated each year by Yorkshire Water. Through our new £72 million treatment facility at Knostrop Leeds and our planned facility at Huddersfield, we will convert all our waste into renewable energy through a process known as anaerobic digestion (100% of our sludge will be digested by 2020).

Yorkshire Water will have 14 sludge treatment centre’s in 2020. These are plants across the region treating sludge, converting it into a fertiliser, and creating a biogas that is turned into green electricity. This electricity is used to provide the power to operate our sewage treatment works. The renewable energy benefits of sludge treatment are helping us keep costs down for customers. We have continued to invest in anaerobic digestion in a move which will deliver significantly lower operating costs by 2020.

Our areas of focus

Our key areas of focus are our two performance commitments - increasing our renewable energy generation from biogas and producing quality agricultural products which allows us to achieve 100% biosolids accreditation. We are also focused on our efficiency and utilising the market for bioresource services to drive down our £/TDS (tonne dry solid) costs, providing our customers with value for money. Safety of our people and the environment is also a key focus for our business.

Our market approach

As part of our PR19 plans to improve our efficiency and resilience we will be looking to deliver our services differently, considering what alternative solutions exist in the wider market. We plan to use advances in technology to help avoid waste, increase renewable energy generation and produce a better-quality product to agriculture and industry.

Through a large-scale market testing exercise, we have identified a number of key areas that we are looking to the market to help us deliver, including thickening and dewatering services, treatment of some of the sludge produced at our North Yorkshire treatment plants, sludge transport and use of some of our biogas.

To aid our thinking, in 2018/19 we held a number of supplier days with organisations that might be interested in working with us. These aimed to engage with potential suppliers on our aspirations for the bioresources business and how we are looking to the market to support us in delivering our company outcomes. Slides for both days are provided below to offer background information on our thinking at the time.

April Bioresources Supplier Day slides

June Bioresources Supplier Day slides

We are also working with market suppliers to be part of a group of WaSCs (Water and Sewerage Companies) publishing our sludge treatment centre data on a shared platform to allow cross border trading, opening the market to achieve the most efficient costs for us and others. Currently, our market information is published here on our website on an annual basis to allow potential external suppliers to access the data and approach us with market solutions to our sludge treatment processes and facilities.

On understanding the value and efficiency we could achieve regarding our logistics and transport of raw cake and liquid sludge; the market was identified as one way in which cost savings could be achieved. In 2019/20, our tankering operations were put out to commercial tender. A new contract has been awarded for these services, which begins at midnight 03/06/2020.

We hope that this information helps you to understand the scale and details of our bioresources operations. We continue to seek to use markets to drive high standards of environmental performance and value for money for our customers. Please let us know if you think you can help or of any additional information you'd like to see - we are keen to share as much as we can to help organisations who might want to work with us.

Contact the team via email