News round-up January 2024 | MRW – Materials Recycling World

Greyparrot makes Global Cleantech 100 list; Consultation launched for Wisbech incinerator; Survey finds upbeat hopes on circular fashion; TopHat turns to Wilshee’s for waste

Greyparrot makes Global Cleantech 100 list

London-based waste analytics specialist Greyparrot has been named on the Cleantech Group’s list of companies making significant contributions to sustainable innovation.

The Cleantech Group posits itself as the leading authority in global cleantech innovation.

“We’re thrilled that Greyparrot was selected for the 2024 Global Cleantech 100 list,” said Ambarish Mitra, co-founder of Greyparrot. “The recognition from Cleantech Group reflects the real impact that our technology has on sustainability.”

Greyparrot’s ‘Analyzer’ analytics platform facilitates continuous artificial intelligence monitoring at MRFs, with the company saying it has helped direct nearly 70,000 tonnes of waste back into the circular economy since 2019.

Press release

Consultation launched for Wisbech incinerator

The Environment Agency has launched is seeking public opinion on MVV Environment’s proposed energy-from-waste plant at the Algores Industrial Estate in Cambridgeshire.

The £300m project, which aims to generate 50MW of electricity each year, while diverting over half a million tonnes of waste from landfill, has met with fierce local opposition. Former prime minister Liz Truss and environment secretary Steve Barclay – whose constituencies are nearby – have both previously spoken out against the plans.

Due to the size of the facility, the Planning Inspectorate is examining the project separately. The initial proposal was submitted in 2019 and MVV Environment says it would take around three years to complete.


Survey finds upbeat hopes on circular fashion

A third of senior executives in fashion brands expect their company to be ‘fully circular’ within two to three years, according to a survey.

The survey of 100 board members and directors, in the UK, US and Australia – carried out by PureProfile for Aquapak Polymers – found that 86% described their strategy for making their business circular to be ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

However, while 49% said sustainability is regarded as highly important to the success of their business, just 21% described the quality of their sustainability strategy as excellent.

Mark Lapping, CEO of Aquapak, said: “Our study shows that the circular economy and sustainability are priorities for fashion industry, although only half think that their business is at the vanguard of change.”

Press release

TopHat turns to Wilshee’s for waste

Eco home builder TopHat has appointed Willshee’s Waste & Recycling to manage its manufacturing waste.

TopHat claims its homes produce only 45% of the CO2 of traditional houses, over their lifetimes. Since 2019, it has won or been shortlisted for 20 awards. It is committed to significantly reducing its waste, moving towards ‘zero landfill by maximising reused materials and recycling.

TopHat group supply chain & logistics director Rachel Beech commented: “We have been hugely impressed with the technology at Willshee’s MRFs, in particular, the effort that goes into reusing materials. Waste wood, for example, goes to a manufacturer of chipboard, of which we need huge amounts.”

Willshee’s managing director, Dean Willshee, said: “We feel very pleased and privileged to be working with this innovative, highly sustainable business, delivering the most responsible methods of disposing with waste to support the company’s commitment to improve its carbon footprint”.

Press release

DS Smith trials ‘alternative fibres’ for packaging

FTSE 100 packaging company DS Smith has launched a trial in partnership with West Sussex-based start-up Nafici Environmental Research to create packaging from ‘second harvest’ materials.

According to DS Smith’s research team, second harvest materials, such as straw and brewers’ spent grain have the potential to save up to 10% of the virgin fibres used in paper making. Nafici Environmental Research (NER) has created a process to transform agricultural waste into paper-making pulp.

Nick Thompson, DS Smith’s materials development director, said: “Our Now & Next Sustainability strategy drives us to be leaders in helping the transition to a circular economy. Working with customers and partners across the supply chain to keep materials in use for as long as possible is an important part of that drive”.

Florence Miremadi-Nafici, CEO of NER, said: “We hope to prove that alternative fibres can play an important role in the future of sustainable packaging.”

Press Release

Brewster’s grows in £7m expansion

Family-run Scottish-based construction waste recycling firm, Brewster Brothers, has opened a second site, as part of a £7m expansion.

Brewster’s transforms excavated soils and rubble from the construction industry into aggregates for reuse. Over the past six years at its first site near Livingston, it has prevented almost 1.35 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste from going to landfill and created more than 1 million tonnes of recycled aggregates.

Its second site, at the old Gartshore Works near Cumbernauld, will be capable of recycling a further 300,000 tonnes of waste per year for re-use in the building trade. The new plant will serve construction sites in the Western Central Belt, reducing their carbon impact.

Scott Brewster, managing director of Brewster Brothers said: “Following the opening of our new plant near Cumbernauld, we’ll be able to service 44% of Scottish construction projects, while keeping the carbon footprint of our own operations to a minimum. We will work in partnership with contractors to help them reach their sustainability goals.

Press release

Durham families given free food

Durham County Council is providing surplus food donated by retailers and producers to families when they pick their children up from nursery.

Amanda Cuskin, of Fairshare North East, which runs the scheme, said there a “huge variety” of food is donated, including frozen items. The food is redistributed from Fairshare’s warehouse in Westerhope, in Newcastle.

She said: “We never know what we are going to get, much of it would go to landfill sites so by us rescuing it we can sort it out and redistribute it. We have seven vans and we take a ton of food in each van every day.”

Ted Henderson, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “This scheme ties in with our poverty and climate change priorities, supporting families while also reducing food waste. It also helps us to stay connected with the families we support and encourages people to make healthy meals.”

Families are urged to use an app to get recipe suggestions based on what ingredients they have to hand.


Train company’s excellent separation

Train company Northern is segregating waste into 33 categories as part of 2024 environmental mission.

Northern has 7,000 staff in offices across the North of England. With five TrainCare Centre depots, it re-uses or re-cycles 70% of all waste generated by its operations. The 33 different categories include oil contaminated materials, PPE and uniforms and brakepads.

Mike Roe, safety and environment director at Northern, said: “Eliminating waste is our primary objective – but when that’s not possible, we aim to re-use or recycle as much as we can. The 33 different recycling strands allows everyone across our workforce to play their part in support of our environmental mission.”

In 2022-23, Northern processed 6,458 tonnes of waste. Of that, 2,670 tonnes were recycled, 1,996 tonnes were re-used, 1,660 tonnes were incinerated (generating energy from waste) and just 132 tonnes went to landfill.

Press release

Reform delay leads to longer waste contract

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils are to extend their joint waste contract for two more years. The contract will now run until June 2026.

A spokesperson said that the move was driven by the government’s delay in outlining changes to the waste industry stemming from the Environment Act 2021.

The joint contract, with Biffa, has run for 14 years in South Oxfordshire and 13 years in Vale of White Horse and recycling rates are 64% respectively, putting them in the top five for English district councils.

In a joint waste satisfaction survey82% of respondents expressed satisfaction, or high satisfaction, with the overall quality of the service provided.

Press release

Firefighters tackle Rochford waste fire

A fire in a warehouse at a recycling centre in Rochford was attended by fire fighting crews from crews from Leigh, Rayleigh Weir and Southend.

They extinguished the blaze at the centre in Brickfields Way then used an excavator and a bulldozer, with onsite staff, to move and turn over the material to make sure it was fully extinguished.

Howard Midwood, station manager, said: “I would like to praise site staff for taking swift action when they noticed the fire and our crews for their response.

“They stopped the fire from spreading to the entire warehouse; in the end only 3 or 4 per cent of the waste was affected.”

Basildon, Canvey and Southend Echo

Sainsbury shifts to cardboard for mushroom packs

Sainsbury’s has become the first UK retailer to move from plastic packaging to cardboard for all its own-brand mushrooms. The move will save more than 775 tonnes of plastic a yea, the weight of 43 double decker buses. It will apply to 13 lines, including whole baby button, closed cup, organic and chestnut mushrooms.

Claire Hughes, director of product and innovation, said: “The initiative reflects our commitment towards a healthier and more sustainable future as we continue to look at ways to innovate our packaging and reduce and replace plastic where possible.”

Film packaging can be recycled at front-of-store collection points. The supermarket chain has also removed plastic trays from its tomatoes and toilet and kitchen rolls, saving 560 tonnes of plastic a year.

Press release

County wide roll out of Absorbent Hygiene Products collections

Denbighshire County Council’s collections of absorbent hygiene products is  to be rolled out throughout the county, following a successful pilot last year.

The service will be available to households with babies or children in nappies and individuals who use incontinence products. It is designed to reduce the amount of waste in non-recyclable bins, 20% of which is this is AHPs.

Barry Mellor, lead member for environment and transport said, “We’re collecting this waste separately so that, in future, it could be used to produce a variety of products, including fibreboards and acoustic panels for floors and walls, and for road surfaces.”

The council is encourage residents to consider  using reusable nappies rathe than disposable nappies and offers a reusable nappy voucher scheme providing £25 worth of vouchers. Collections will begin in June.

Press release

Goats get to work on waste Christmas trees

A Shropshire resident has offered the services of her two goats to deal with waste Christmas trees.

The Wellington Weekly News has reported that Marmite and Biscuit, goats belonging to Anna-Lisa De’Ath, enjoy eating essential vitamins gleaned from the tree’s bark and leaves.

She said: “They absolutely love eating Christmas trees, as long as they have not been sprayed with any harmful chemicals because the trees contain essential vitamins for the goats at a time when there is little foliage around.

“They eat all the needles from the branches first, but the bit they love the most is the bark, which they strip off to leave just the bare tree skeleton. It’s a great way to recycle old Christmas trees at this time of year and it keeps the goats amused for hours.”

Wellington Weekly News

Bakers Basco expands recovery operations across UK

Bakeries equipment company Bakers Basco has appointed dedicated investigation teams in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

The teams will conduct site visits and monitor the regions for mismanagement and misuse of equipment on behalf of its members, which include Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Hovis and Warburtons.

The company said it had recovered 1,328 baskets and 675 dollies from unsecure or unauthorised locations during its first outing in Northern Ireland.

“By establishing a presence in Northern Ireland and Scotland, we aim to strengthen our efforts in preventing misuse and ensuring the longevity of our equipment and to keep it in the circular economy,” said national investigations manager Stacey Brown.

Press release

FCC uses fuel efficiency training scheme

FCC Environment is working with Cat plant suppler Finning to improve fuel efficiencies.

More than 30 FCC machine operators and plant managers have completed Finning ’s Eco-Drive operator training programme, which is designed to reduce machine idle time and minimise fuel burn, improve CO2 emissions and reduce operating costs.

Bill Stone, group plant manager at FCC Environment, said: “We’ve been doing business with Finning for some time and enjoy a good working relationship with them. We started looking at all our operational data to identify how we can improve idle times – and vitally cut fuel costs – and the training delivered by Finning was an important part of that.”

Press release

Firm seeks permission to expand waste site

Blackburn firm One7 GRP is seeking backdated planning permission for a waste management station on the edge of the town centre, reports the Lancashire Telegraph.

The firm has told Blackburn with Darwen Council that the facility would offer the acceptance, storage and transfer of mixed, dry, non-hazardous household, industrial and commercial and construction, demolition and excavation wastes. No hazardous, liquid or clinical wastes would be accepted.

It said it sought retrospective planning permission to allow for the recycling of mixed non-hazardous skip wastes from its own construction projects and for other similar wastes from the surrounding area.

Lancashire Telegraph

EA gains further shut down for Kent site

The Environment Agency (EA) has secured a second six months’ validity for a court order preventing access to the Eastchurch waste site in Kent.

The new order will be in force until 20 June 2024, meaning anyone entering the land without reasonable excuse or written permission from the EA or tampering with the lock or notice will be committing a criminal offence.

Matt Higginson, EA environment manager for Kent, said: “This order has been secured following the local community’s concerns and the environmental impact of the tipping of waste at the site.

“We inspect the site regularly and have had a regular presence in Eastchurch to disrupt the illegal dumping of waste.”

Press release

Safety award for UKCM

Container repair and refurbishment company UK Container Maintenance (UKCM), has been accredited under the Alcumus SafeContractor scheme, which recognises health and safety management standards among UK contractors.

Liz Wolstenholme, UKCM finance and operations director said: “Our unwavering commitment as a firm is reiterated by achieving the revered Alcumus SafeContractor accreditation, and we are proud to have secured this annually for several years now.”

UKCM is part of the Impact Environmental Group and works across the country from its Cheshire base.

Press release

Reconomy renews work with Wolves

Reconomy has extended its sustainability partnership with Wolves football club and its charitable foundation.

The 25 year relationship deepened in the 2022-23 Premier League season when Reconomy became Wolves’ sustainability partner and shirt sponsor of Wolves Women. 

Reconomy will continue to support Wolves’ environmental sustainability strategy and make an annual financial commitment to the charitable Wolves Foundation.

Paul Cox, founder director at Reconomy, said: “Throughout our relationship with Wolves, its commitment to creating a more sustainable football club and match day experience for their loyal fans has been impressive. We are delighted to deepen our commercial relationship with an organisation that shares our values and recognises the importance of increasing circularity to preserve our finite resource.”

Press release 

Essex mulls future of failed waste site

Essex County Council is to pay consultants £60,000 for advice on the future use of the site of the disastrous Tovi Eco Park in Basildon, the Evening Echo has reported.

The plant was built to process 417,000 tonnes a year of residual waste but failed and is being demolished after Essex won a legal battle with developer Urbaser Balfour Beatty.

An Essex spokesman said: “The £60,000 will fund specialist strategic property advice to enable future options for the Courtauld Road site to be explored. This will help ensure value for money is secured for Essex taxpayers when the land is given back to Essex County Council.”

Evening Echo

O’Donovan Waste boss receives OBE

Jacqueline O’Donovan, managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, has received an OBE at Windsor Castle.

O’Donovan was named in King Charles’ birthday honours list in June for services to recycling, safety and industry.

“I am deeply honoured to receive this OBE, which for me cements the fact that the work I have done and continue to do is making a difference and a positive impact,” she was quoted as saying in the Irish Post.

“It reinforces my belief in the importance of sustainability and safety”.

Irish Post

Aldi revises food waste aims after hitting targets

Supermarket chain Aldi says it has reduced food waste by 57% since 2017, having pledged to half the figure by 2030.

It has now set revised food waste targets of 90% within this time period as it launches its first sustainability report in Great Britain.

“We’re dedicated to taking steps that positively impact the environment and we know one area where we can have a big impact is food waste,” said Liz Fox, national sustainability director.

“We’re proud of the progress we’re making, which we’re pleased to share in our first sustainability report, and that’s why we’re looking to push ourselves even further.”

Press release

Swindon residents complain bins not emptied for weeks

General waste bins in parts of Swindon have not been collected since November, complain residents.

The missed collections follow the introduction of service changes by the borough council – including food waste collections – at the end of November.

One resident reported overflowing bins, with animals ripping open the bags.

Councillor Chris Watts told the BBC that this, combined with the large amount of waste produced during the Christmas period meant the backlog could take weeks to clear.


Tesco removes plastic packaging from tissues

Supermarket chain Tesco will switch to recycled paper packaging for its own brand pocket tissue multipacks, saying this will save almost 35 million tonnes of plastic each year.

“Unlike boxes of tissues, the pocket version tends to be used on the go and can all too easily become litter,” said campaigns manager Courtney Pallett.

“The new paper packaging works just as well as the old plastic wrap but is more sustainable.”

The change was implemented in mid-December, with Tesco saying it is the first supermarket to make such a change.

Press release

Council prosecutes registered collector

A registered waste collector who admitted repeatedly breaching the requirement to deposit waste only at an authorised site must pay a fine and costs of £1,314 after a prosecution by Ashford Borough Council.

Jasper Smith owns Landscaping Services and is registered to operate as a scrap metal collector, though the council found he was taking waste to Walter House Farm, Woodchurch, instead of an authorised site. The farm’s owner Geoffrey George accepted he did not hold a licence to accept waste and was not provided with waste transfer notes by Smith. 

Smith was handed a £400 fixed penalty notice but threatened to fly-tip waste in response. He was prosecuted when he failed to pay. George was given a £400 fixed penalty notice, which he has paid.

Press release

WRAP reports on bag recycling trial

WRAP has found a mixed bag of results from its FPF FlexCollect trial of plastic bag and wrapping recycling in four areas ahead of the introduction of these collections across the UK by 2027.

It has worked with Suez, Recoup EcoSurety and local authorities to trial kerbside collections of flexible plastics.

Feedback showed the trial in South Gloucestershire performed with high levels of recycling and satisfaction, and there were similar results in Newcastle. There were problems in Cheltenham, however, with distribution of collection bags and in Maldon involving communications issues with the public.

Press release

Overflowing bottle bank causes complaints

Residents of Long Melford have been angered after hundreds of empty bottles were dumped next to overflowing bottle banks, the East Anglian Daily Times has reported.

Some residents said people should have taken their empty bottles home instead of leaving them there, while others have called for more bottle banks to be put in place over Christmas.

A sign at the recycling centre reads: “Leaving items on the ground in this centre is classified as fly-tipping, which is a criminal offence and can be subject to substantial fines,” threatening to trace anyone who dumps material in the area.”

East Anglian Daily Times

Recycling centre approved for landfill

Plans for a new recycling centre have been approved by Bury Council despite concerns from residents over a “vile” smell, the Bury Times has reported.

The recycling centre will be built on a landfill site at Pilsworth Quarry and developer Valencia has said it will be used to divert materials away from landfill.

The council’s planning committee approved the project despite concerns from some residents regarding odour at the landfill site and about green belt development 

Bury Times