The Glasgow Recycling and Renewable Energy Centre –which will be the only one of its kind in the UK and one of only a handful in the world– is expected to convert 90% of waste generated in the city into energy and cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 90,000 tonnes a year.
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It will be built at the existing waste facility at Polmadie in the south of the city and was approved by councillors despite dozens of objections.
The Unison, Unite and GMB trade unions wrote to Glasgow councillors urging opposition to the plans, while environmental campaigners opposed the energy-from-waste approach, arguing such plants create an incentive for councils to produce more rubbish and recycle less.
They also warned it could pose a public health risk because the plant would use gasification, a process similar to incineration which releases highly toxic gases known as dioxins – chemicals that have been linked to immune system impairment, liver problems and cancer.
However, councillors yesterday approved the plans to help them meet tough Government recycling rates.
The facility, which should be complete by early 2016, will be able to treat 200,000 tonnes of green bin waste a year and is expected to create 254 jobs.
It will be run by Viridor on a 25-year lease, and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition to recycling, Viridor says the plant will be able recover enough energy to power the equivalent of 22,000 houses and heat 8000 homes.
City council leader Gordon Matheson said: "Without this facility, we would be faced with the depressing prospect of piling millions of tonnes of waste into the ground over the coming years and we would also pay through the nose to do it.
"The likes of Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands – have the highest recyling rates in Europe. They have achieved this by embracing a mix of modern but proven technologies that boost recycling and recover energy from what remains.
"This is an approach that has huge potential in Glasgow."
Domestic green bin waste from across the city will be taken to the new plant and materials which can be recycled will be removed. Organic materials such as food and garden waste will be turned into natural gas to power the plant.
The residue will be used to produce a gas which will be burned to generate electricity to be fed into the national grid.
Steven Don, Viridor's Scottish regional manager, said: "This project will not only help move the city towards a zero waste economy, but will deliver world class next generation green infrastructure while reducing council tax payer exposure to costly landfill levies."