Open House Festival

Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility

industrial, infrastructure/engineering

Thorpe Wheatley, 2012

43 Devon Street, (off Old Kent Road), SE15 1AL

Ever WONDERED what happens to your recycling? Southwark's FREE fun-filled, family-friendly Wonder Day is back on Saturday 14 September 2024, 10am - 4pm. Come along to our annual Wonder Day, to see our Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) sort recycling using the latest innovations, and meet some of the amazing experts that work behind the scenes.

Getting there


Elephant & Castle


Queen's Road Peckham


453, 53, 21, 172, P12

Additional travel info

There is no parking on site.



Accessibility notes

Tour restrictions apply, please see more in Details section on this page. The rest of the site is accessible.

What you can expect

As a waste site, visitors may encounter strong smells - especially on a tour inside the facility.



Tours of the facility will be taking place throughout the day to give you an insight into how your waste is actually a valuable resource that can help us to build a sustainable future. No bookings are needed to attend a tour, time slots are assigned on a first come first served basis. Please arrive early to avoid any disappointment.

Tour restrictions also apply:

- Anyone with a pacemaker is unable to attend a tour due to machinery which will interfere with the pacemaker function which could be fatal.
- Sensible footwear must be worn or you will not be permitted on the tour (no open-toe shoes, high heels, sandals or flip flops).
- Children must be taller than 137cm tall and fit into a hard hat to go on the recycling tour.
- For smaller children who fit into a child's hard hat, there are two kids tours at 12:15 pm and 12:35 pm when the recycling facility is not operating.
- All children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult, and no more than two children per adult.
- Those who are unable to walk unaided (i.e. need a guide or walking stick) will not be able to attend a tour.
- For those with hearing aids, the tour includes an audio guide and hearing protection that we will test to ensure it works with your hearing device before you can go on the tour.
- PPE will be provided and must be worn.

Please visit our website to find out more:

In addition to the tours, there will be lots of entertainment for the whole family including...

- Upcycling and craft workshops
- Bike repair stall - providing free basic service/safety checks. They will also be able to answer any bike-related questions including cycle safety and confidence advice
- Local community garden plant sale
- Vehicle display - little ones who love diggers, trucks and shovels can explore the big machines that work on site and learn what they do
- Bouncy castle, face painting and games to keep little and big kids entertained
- Recycling Discovery Centre - discover the origins of materials, and the recycling life cycle, and play on a mini version of the facility
- Food and refreshments will also be available to purchase on the day.

The facilty

The Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility was built and is being operated by Veolia UK, as part of its 25 year PFI contract with Southwark Council.

The facility, which became operational in January 2012, is one of the most advanced in Europe. It has been designed to promote sustainable waste management and to accommodate the unique central London location.

The facility comprises:
· Material Recovery Facility (MRF)
· Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility
· Public Household Waste, Reuse and Recycling Centre (HWRRC)
· Waste transfer station
· Recycling Discovery Centre for children
· Waste collections depot
· Vehicle workshop

The MRF sorts one of the widest ranges of household recyclables in the UK, including difficult to recycle items such as Tetra Paks, aerosols and tubs. It can be reprogrammed to take account of future developments in packaging and materials, ensuring a more sustainable design – a first in Europe. Near Infrared (NIR) sorters are used extensively to reduce the human interface within the mechanical separation process, making the facility safer and more efficient than ever.

The MBT treats black bag, traditionally non-recyclable waste. Using a unique combination of novel technologies, a new concept has been developed to mechanically separate recyclable materials (e.g. metals and plastics) from the general waste. These materials are sent for recycling, whilst the remaining general waste is biologically processed into a low carbon biomass fuel for energy recovery. Some of this fuel is used at SELCHP to generate electricity for the national grid and heat, which is circulated to around 2,800 Southwark Council homes.

Key features

Hidden Architecture

The facility’s architecture is designed to sit discreetly in its surroundings; the exterior makes use of neutral colours and a pleasing curved roof structure.

Key design features include:

· Operational entrances face away from nearby housing.
· Negative pressure within the facility draws dust and odours back into the building for neutralisation and treatment.
· Quiet, rapid shutting fabric doors help to contain noise, dust and odours.
· Landscaping creates a ‘green’ corridor to promote health and wellbeing and to support biodiversity.


The facility was designed to provide a sustainable waste solution which enhances the circular economy and minimises impact on the local environment.

Reducing landfill and carbon emissions:

The facility supports a full suite of waste treatment processes, from collection to recovery, offering maximised diversion from landfill and a significantly lowered carbon footprint.

Central location:

Situated in South East London, our unique centralised location minimises the emissions associated with waste collections. In addition, the South East London Combined Heat and Power (SELCHP) energy recovery facility, where a large portion of Southwark’s waste is processed, is located just a mile away from the site.

Sustainable Design Features:

These work alongside operational solutions to reduce greenhouse emissions, improve resource efficiency and promote biodiversity:

· Electric vehicle charging points in the staff car park
Solar panels provide up to 20% of the energy for the education centre.
· Grey and rainwater systems to conserve and recycle water.
· 25% of materials used in the construction of the facility were recycled or reclaimed
· Sedum roof matting, bat and bird boxes, and stag beetle logs were established on site to support and promote urban biodiversity.

Online presence


Back to top of page