Mechanical and Biological Treatment

MBT is a tried and tested process offering an alternative to landfill which is both more environmentally sound and more sustainable. MBT maximises the extraction of recyclate and other products (including refuse-derived fuel (RDF)) and ensures that material to landfill is minimised as well as biologically stabilised.

ORA has extensive experience in all aspects of the development, construction and operation of MBT facilities working with both the public and private sector on projects in Europe, including a number of facilities in the UK.

Feasibility studies

MBT and MRF consultancy
Sorting of recyclates in a MRF V-screen

ORA has extensive experience in the design of MBT facilities. This has involved co-ordination with technology suppliers and design integration for the creation of a cohesive and functional process through to a complete design service starting with mass balances and following on to site layout and process design.

Obtaining planning consent is a key issue that has to be addressed when developing an MBT facility. ORA is able to assist clients by gathering and presenting the technical information required by planning authorities prior to submitting a planning application. ORA is also able to provide technical support to resolve planning issues.

A key question when a new MBT plant is being considered is "What will it cost?". ORA is able to draw on extensive experience to create projected capital and operating costings for specific situations, and provide an estimate of the cost per tonne of input material that will be needed to break even.

With our broad knowledge of MBT technology, ORA is able to provide sound, objective advice on the technical suitability of MBT for financial institutions who might be considering the suitability of a given operation for financial backing.

Mass flows and BMW balance determination

The economics of an MBT process will be determined by the processing of materials into the most viable products. Compliance requirements with BVPI and LATS targets can be compared with plant mass and BMW balances to ensure that ultimate plant performance will be within the required output specifications.

Legislative and environmental compliance

MBT construction management
MBT plant

The MBT industry is controlled by a number of different pieces of legislation. In recent years there have been many amendments made to existing legislation as well as introduction of new legislation. ORA keeps abreast of these changes, providing consultation back to DEFRA on key issues and has sat on expert panels set up to discuss how regulations such as the ABPR are to be implemented. We are therefore in a very strong position to advise clients on regulatory compliance and have established good contacts with regulatory bodies to enable swift resolution of specific queries.

Increasingly, the environmental impact of MBT operations is becoming a key issue, especially when licences or permits are being sought. In some situations an environmental impact assessment may be required or may be thought prudent. ORA is able to provide baseline environmental audits looking at specific sites or operations and to report on the existing or potential impact that an MBT operation might have. In some situations where problems have occurred or where sites are in particularly sensitive areas, environmental monitoring for parameters such as odour, bioaerosols and leachate may be needed. ORA are able to offer this service tailored to suit a clients needs.

ORA works closely with the Environment Agency, the regulatory body responsible for issuing waste licences, exemptions or permits for the processing of waste. With our contacts, ORA are in a strong position to assist clients with gathering the information needed to apply for the necessary permissions to operate an MBT plant, to assist with completing the necessary application forms and to provide technical support and liaison between operators and Environment Agency staff.

Management and support of the tendering process

Where it is crucial for the best service to be obtained at the best price, both local authorities and private companies are making increasing use of tendering procedures for selection of contractors. A key part of this process is the development of comprehensive, unambiguous and concise tender documents. ORA has extensive experience in the development of such documents and have particular skills in drafting technical specifications. When a tendering process is underway, there is often a need for objective technical appraisal of submitted tenders. ORA has worked with both public and private bodies in this capacity, reviewing tenders, and reporting on a wide range of technical issues.

Design and construction management

MBT due diligence
Overseeing MBT construction

Effective project management ensures the smooth implementation on any project. ORA has experience in both the public and private sectors of managing MBT projects to ensure best value for money is obtained. The whole process can be covered from initial concept through to financial close, including design, manufacturing, construction, commissioning and handover.

With the high cost of land in the UK, efficient site design is crucial for cost effective MBT operations. ORA is able to provide a site design service for both small and large scale facilities and can tailor the service to suit our clients' needs in terms of detail required.

Process testing and optimisation

Independent process auditing, whether theoretical or physical, is a key component of a facility’s development. ORA has experience in both types of process audits on large and small scale facilities.

With existing operations, there is sometimes a need to bring in additional expertise to help solve problems and provide objectivity. This service can be tailored to suit a client’s specific needs – either by providing a ‘one off’ solution or by offering ongoing support to monitor and optimise a situation over time.
ORA can also provide assistance when the basic aim of a facility is modified, for example when a shift from landfill towards recovery of material (RDF and SRF).

Quality assurance

ORA is an approved consultant under ORG's commercial approved consultants scheme. We are able to offer assistance in understanding and gaining accreditation for the PAS 100 specification for composted materials. We are also experienced with other quality standards such as those under which organic farmers and growers operate and can provide advice on specific quality issues where needed. ORA has undertaken a number of market assessments for different end products and is also able to run container and field based growing trials to demonstrate product quality and enhance product credibility. This service is usually quite project specific and can be tailored to fit a client’s particular need.

Product and market identification

Composting hall during commissioning
Composting hall during commissioning

In terms of quality assurance, ORA are experienced in the sampling and analysis procedures required to obtain representative samples from the outputs of an MBT facility. We are therefore able to provide independent assurance that a product meets the required specification.

The markets for end products are critical in making a project bankable and in some instances the lack of a potential market can be a ‘deal breaker’. ORA are experienced in undertaking market assessments for different end products and are able to assist clients in identifying potential end markets for their products. This is usually a bespoke service tailored to fit a client’s particular need.


With existing operations, there is sometimes a need to bring in additional expertise to help sort out problems. ORA has extensive experience in resolving problems or providing independent assessments of situations where objectivity is needed. This service can be tailored to suit a client’s needs – either by providing a one off solution or by offering ongoing support to monitor and improve or optimise a situation over time.

Process auditing can be carried out either on a theoretical basis or by physically auditing an existing operation. It involves looking at what a technology supplier or operator predicts they are able do. For example, given throughputs, waste separation details and quality of end product, and looking at the process in plan form or on the ground, ORA is able to assess whether or not they will be achievable.

MBT Projects

Please click here to view case studies which involve mechanical & biological treatment.