Last Wednesday saw a lucky group of us attend the Eco Savvy “Day @ the Dump” info tour around the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) and waste transfer station in Brodick.

The tour was taken by Jake Elliott from North Ayrshire Council who gave us a ton of information and was able to answer all our Arran based waste and recycling questions.

We started off with a tour of the transfer station, which is the big green shed at the entrance to the HWRC (or “the coup” as most of us probably know it!). This is where waste is brought by the Refuse Collection Vehicles (A.K.A. bin lorries) from all over the island both for domestic and commercial waste, as well as the contents of all Arran’s public litter bins.

The waste is kept in two sections:

  • non recyclable waste – black bins
  • recycling – blue bins
Blue bin waste on left. Black bin waste on right.

From this point both the recyclable and non-recyclable waste is “bulked up” to take off the island. It is put into compactors and then into large metal containers which hold between 12 and 14 tons each. These containers are shipped off on the ferry, sometimes making two trips a day. The cost of this is in the region of £150,000 a year in ferry fees alone.

What happens to our non-recyclable waste (black bin)?

Up until May 2018 waste was sent to Shewalton landfill site for disposal, however this is now closed due to reaching capacity and there are no longer any landfill sites in North Ayrshire. In fact, all landfill sites in the UK will be closed by 2021

The non-recyclable waste is first sent to a recycling facility in Bargeddie for processing to remove recyclables. Following this the waste goes to an energy plant in Dunbar where it is incinerated to produce renewable electricity for sale to the national grid as part of the Clyde Valley Residual Waste Project

What happens to our recyclable waste (blue bin)?

The recyclable blue bin waste goes by ferry to Northern Ireland to be processed and sorted for recycling. The process is mainly automated with waste like paper, cardboard, tins and plastic being separated and recycled. You can watch a short video about what happens here

Approximately 17-18% of the blue bin waste is contaminated with items that are not suitable for recycling.

Brodick Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC)

We were then given a tour round the HWRC (Household Waste Recycling Centre) – the site at the end of Market Road where all the containers and skips are.

The purpose of this facility is to promote recycling and reuse and is the same as the facilities on the mainland. 

Many things can brought to the HWRC and there are different organisations that specialise in dealing with certain waste streams, for example there is an organisation that comes to collect the cooking oil and motor oil which is then used to make bio diesel or other commercial processes, TVs and monitors are processed by another organisation who use them for parts and recycle the components.

The general waste skips are all processed and we were please to hear that approximately 80% of the contents are able to be recycled.

Garden waste brought to the HWRC is bulked and sent to a company in Blantyre who put it through an accelerated composting process. NAC then returns a small tonnage back to Arran for the public to collect from the HWRC, usually a couple of times a year.

In North Ayrshire approximately 56% of waste is recycled with ScotGov targets to have this figure at 70% by 2025. 

Since opening the HWRC in 2017 this has diverted approximately 500 tonnes of waste from landfill to recycling a year.

What can we all do?

Whilst it is great that recycling is becoming more successful and widespread it is also good to keep in mind that avoiding waste is a better environmental option than recycling or even re-use:

For a list of what goes in your blue bin and what goes in your black bin please click here (remember to try the scrunch test on foil or plastic to check if it can be recycled – if it bounces back it must go in the black bin).

There are also some good tips on the NAC website about how to reduce what you put in your bins.

If you would like to know more about waste and recycling in North Ayrshire you can read their Waste Strategy here.

Huge thanks to Jake for this very informative tour, and to Val, the Eco Savvy Shop Manager for organising this event.

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