Corporate Responsibility

Innovation in waste.

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Innovation is essential for our future, and it will help us to provide a sustainable future for our customers and the environment. We need to move to more innovative solutions, because traditional approaches can’t always provide long-term and more sustainable answers.

Looking for leaks with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and thermal imaging camera.
Demand for innovation has been growing, while new technologies and approaches have become technically and economically feasible. We’re driving innovation in our business through laboratory, pilot and full scale testing. We’ve continued to focus our efforts in three specific areas:

Waste networks.

Our waste network has been serving our customers for many years. But with increasing pressures of climate change, population growth and ageing infrastructure, innovation is key to maintaining cost efficiency and improving performance.

Smarter networks will help us operate more efficiently and improve our wastewater services for our customers. Understanding our networks using sensors and improved modelling tools will also help us target and optimise appropriate solutions and investment more appropriately. New technologies and different ways of thinking are needed to provide sustainable solutions for the future, so our key areas of focus are as follows:

  • Smarter networks – installing more monitors to help us control our network, which will improve our operations and investment decisions
  • Fats, oils and grease (FOG) management – enabling FOG interception, collection and extraction to utilise as an energy source and reduce blockages
  • Infiltration detection and solutions – deploying novel detection methods, treatment solutions and prediction models to create effective and more sustainable solutions
  • Assessing the condition of high risk assets – developing understanding of our assets, helping us to assess risk and prioritise future investments, and ensure great service for our customers.
Read more about how we are identifying types of drainage intervention and where is it needed to reduce the risk of sewer flooding by clicking on the link below:

Waste process innovation.

We expect the Environment Agency to place limits on phosphorus levels for more than 100 of our discharge points within the next ten years. Existing environmental standards are also being tightened, so it’s becoming increasingly important for us to develop novel techniques for removing and recovering these nutrients effectively.

To do this, we’ll use innovative technologies and processes to create more sustainable wastewater treatment. This will help our sites become more energy efficient, maximise the amount of renewable energy we’re generating, and produce valuable products from nutrient removal and recovery processes. Our key areas of focus are as follows:

  • Energy efficiency – deploying additional instrumentation and more sophisticated controls at our larger sites to reduce carbon footprint and energy usage
  • Low tech solutions for small sewage treatment works – developing green technologies for sustainable treatment and better customer service
  • Sustainable processes for removing and recovering phosphorus – recovering resources like phosphorus is key to becoming a more sustainable business
  • Designer bugs for smarter treatment – we’re testing several ‘smart bugs’ which have the potential to revolutionise nutrient removal and recovery in wastewater treatment. Click on the link below to read more:

Sludge and energy.

We’re constantly trying to improve the performance of our new and existing sludge treatment processes. By maximising the amount of energy we generate from sewage sludge, we’re aiming to become grid energy neutral on our larger sites, while also reducing our reliance on land recycling. Innovative thinking is crucial, whether we’re developing a new process or optimising an existing one. Our key areas of focus are as follows:

  • Maximising renewable energy production – by increasing our understanding of anaerobic digestion and deployment of more advanced control
  • Sustainable odour treatment – developing novel and sustainable odour treatment to reduce our impact on the environment
  • Supporting and deploying Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP) – our work helps increase the efficiency and capacity of our existing and new assets
  • Advanced energy recovery – we’re demonstrating the benefits of pyrolysis as an alternative to our sludge powered generators in east London. Learn more by clicking on the link below: