About Brookhurst Wood Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility

Find out about our Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility located to the north of Horsham.


In June 2010 West Sussex County Council and Biffa West Sussex Ltd signed a 25 year waste management contract. The aim was to create a partnership to treat the county's 'black bag' household and commercial waste and to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill.

Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) is one way of reducing landfill and in West Sussex this treatment is carried out at the Brookhurst Wood MBT facility north of Horsham.

The facility is located at Brookhurst Wood as this area is identified in the Waste Local Plan as a strategic site for the management of waste in West Sussex. It is also adjacent to Biffa's existing landfill site. 

The facility takes the county’s 'black bag' household waste, commercial waste and the mixed waste containers from all 11 recycling centres in West Sussex. Waste is taken to transfer stations strategically placed around the county to be bulked up into larger vehicles before transportation to the Brookhurst Wood MBT facility. This is to reduce the amount of vehicles we have on the road, reducing our carbon footprint.

The purpose of the MBT facility is not to sort and separate recyclable materials, but rather to sort and treat any leftover waste that cannot be moved up the waste hierarchy through prevention, reuse or recycling. The MBT facility does however have the capability to separate any metals that remain in the black bag and residual waste, which can then be sent for recycling. Typically, the process captures in excess of 75 per cent of the metals that remain in the black bag waste.

You can find out how our MBT facility processes black bag waste on our General waste page.

Our MBT facility and the environment

The environment was one of the main driving forces behind the idea to construct our MBT facility. We recognise that landfill is not a sustainable disposal method for waste, and that in a lot of cases items once considered waste can be treated and turned into a resource.

The building itself was developed with the environment in mind at every stage.

  • Rainwater is collected from the building and utilised in the process, reducing our fresh (mains water) usage.
  • Solar panels have been installed on our visitor centre, helping to reduce the amount of non-renewable energy consumed by the facility.
  • The building materials selected are recognised as having a low environmental impact over their life, including extraction, processing, and manufacture and recycling.

Odour control is a very important part of the design and management of the MBT facility. Buildings are kept at a slightly lower pressure than outside to ensure fresh air enters when the doors are opened, rather than allowing odorous air to escape. We have three odour treatment stages to remove contamination from our emissions:

  1. a chemical scrubber that utilises chemical reactions to remove key parts of the odour
  2. a biological system that eats away all of the smelly material
  3. an active carbon bed to remove any remaining contamination.

During commissioning the facility underwent a period of testing to ensure that utility use and emissions were within limits set by the Environment Agency. The facility also has to meet stringent conditions set out in its environmental permit (issued by the Environment Agency) to minimise environmental impacts.

The permit requires that the operator monitor emissions and report performance to the Environment Agency on a routine basis. The Environment Agency makes periodic inspections of the facility to ensure it is complying with permit conditions, limiting its impact on the environment.

Our community

We have been working with residents and businesses in the local area since 2010, providing them with information about the construction of the MBT facility, operational and transportation timetables, and the environment.

Find out more about our ongoing community involvement.

You can also visit Brookhurst Wood.