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Bryson Recycling celebrates 25 years cleaning up Northern Ireland’s waste

Northern Irish social enterprise Bryson Recycling celebrated its 25th anniversary last week (26 September) and has pledged to stay at the forefront of delivering innovative recycling services to Northern Ireland.

Since its inception in 1993, Bryson Recycling has recycled over 675,000 tonnes of material – it recycled 212 million plastic items in the last year alone – and has grown beyond Northern Ireland to deliver its ‘Bryson Model’ to Donegal, Ireland, and Conwy, Wales.

It is now the largest social enterprise recycler in the UK, employing more than 280 staff and recently being awarded UK Social Enterprise of the Year, coming a long way since its first Cash for Cans scheme, which was operated by three government-funded trainees.

Bryson Recycling celebrates 25 years cleaning up Northern Ireland’s waste
Bryson Charitable Group’s CEO John McMullan and Bryson Recycling Director Eric Randall pledge to stay at the forefront of tackling waste as the group celebrates 25 years in the industry.

Bryson has been on the front line of innovation in recycling services, introducing the Kerb-Sort vehicle and the Wheelie Box to the marketplace, while also maintaining a local circular economy approach that sees over 80 per cent of the materials it collects in Northern Ireland sent to local reprocessing companies, supporting 1,000 jobs locally.

Northern Irish businesses Huhtamaki, Cherry Pipes and Encirc all reprocess materials collected by Bryson. This collaborative approach with reprocessors and a number of councils adds over £100m every year to the Northern Ireland economy and Bryson has ambitions to increase this by a further 50 per cent in coming years.

In 2003, Bryson’s commercial collection service was launched and now collects recyclables from over 500 businesses and schools, while it also operates a materials recovery facility that sorts materials collected from around 300,000 households in the arc21 group of councils in Northern Ireland.

Bryson’s recycling ambitions also have a charitable element, with its annual Recycling Rewards Campaign, which encourages more than 170,000 households over the course of a year to recycle as much as they can, with every tonne of glass, paper and plastic collected through Bryson’s kerbside boxes seeing £1 donated to a charity. This year’s charity is MACS NI, which supports children and young people who have experienced difficulties across Northern Ireland  with services including supported housing, floating support and wellbeing support, focusing on housing, homelessness and mental health.

Speaking at the company’s 25th anniversary event, Eric Randall, Director at Bryson Recycling, said: “Homeowners are more aware of the damage that plastic products are causing to the environment. This year we have experienced a huge increase in the number of plastic items across our recycling services; we are now processing an extra 200,000 plastic items each day at our Mallusk site. This increased awareness about plastics, largely due to the shocking images showing the impact of plastics in our seas in David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, has encouraged people to recycle more and offered us the opportunity to boost recycling rates.

“The simple reality is that waste impacts everyone and the environment. Our model ensures good environmental outcomes by ensuring that goods are recycled locally, livelihoods are supported and the economy continues to grow.

“The future of recycling must focus on the quality of material collected and their local economic value. The impact of our model stretches beyond Northern Ireland. With many areas across the UK adopting it. We are confident recycling will be taken taken to the next level and Bryson will continue to champion and shape the local circular economy model.”

You can find out more about Bryson Recycling on the company's website.

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