Veolia, which runs the 25-year Leeds City Council contract for the huge RERF (recycling and energy recovery facility) has now drafted in an external director to raise performance levels.
The firm was issued with an initial improvement notice last September after failing its quarter 1 recycling targets.
The company cited access issues for cleaning within the mechanical pretreatment facility, as well as issues with both processing and selling on pulped paper, among a list of problems being encountered.
It drew up an improvement plan, pledging to address the problems and reach over 10% recycling by March 2017.
However, a new report to a council watchdog panel reveals that” additional significant mechanical issues with the plant, and in particular one key piece of equipment located at the start of the process...have had further impacts on performance”.
The report to the cross-party Environment and Housing Scrutiny Panel notes that “progress on remedying these issues appeared to be positive”, however “this didn’t translate into improved recycling figures”.
It says: “After receiving the quarter 3 performance results...it was confirmed that Veolia had failed their quarter 3 target, and a third Improvement Notice was issued.
“Since this time, and in light of these ongoing issues, Veolia have now drafted in a director from another area of the business to provide support in identifying and delivering a permanent resolution to these issues.”
The plan for the controversial facility - which was the subject of a sustained campaign from locals and environmentalists - is for it to process up to 150,000 tonnes of Leeds’s annual black bin waste a year. This represents around half the city’s total bin output, and up to 3/4 of the total waste that will be brought to the site.
Recyclable materials - those that haven’t made their way into a green bin or a civic skip - are harvested, and the remainder is incinerated.
The RERF manages all black bin waste from across the city, preventing it going to landfill.
The council says this will ultimately save over £200 million over the next 25 years compared to landfill, and prevent the release of around 62,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. This is equivalent to taking around 29,000 cars off the road, the authority says.