THE York landfill site, Harewood Whin, has closed after more than 30 years in operation.

The site near Rufforth opened in the 1980s and will now, over time, be transformed into a wildflower meadow, City of York Council said.

Household waste collected in York and North Yorkshire is now being sent to Allerton Waste Recovery Park (AWRP) near Knaresborough.

The plant can process up to 320,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Diverting this waste away from landfill means AWRP can also use it to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 40,000 homes in the area.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the environment, said: “Diverting waste from landfill is a step in the right direction to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and other environmental issues. Our new facilities maximise mechanical separation of waste for recycling, and digestion of food and other organic waste before using waste to generate energy.

“However, our priority is to cut waste at source, York currently has a 44 per cent recycling rate and we want to work with retailers and government to push this higher. We will work to cut waste being thrown into bins, especially single use plastics and other packaging, which can enter the environment in the UK or further afield if it is exported to the Far East.”

Progress has already been made to transform part of the Harewood Whin site, and vegetation growth is flourishing in areas which have been disused for more than 10 years, the council said.

Cllr Ian Gillies, leader of City of York Council, said: “Rather than sending waste to landfill in York, around 56 per cent of all waste produced is now sent to the Allerton Waste Recovery Park in North Yorkshire - the remaining 44 per cent is recycled. Compared to the costs of continuing to send rubbish to landfill, this will save York tax-payers around £53 million over 25 years. By no longer sending waste to the Harewood Whin landfill site, we are improving the overall environment and area for local residents too.”

Harewood Whin will continue to be used as a transfer station for waste, so refuse vehicles will still be travelling onto the site.