Resource Use

Northern Ireland councils urged to adopt kerbside sort

Eric Randall of Bryson Recycling with wheelie boxes and kerbside sort vehicle
Eric Randall of Bryson Recycling: 'The Wheelie Box model has enormous potential'
350,000 households in Northern Ireland could see a new ‘Wheelie Box’ recycling system in place within five years, Bryson Recycling has predicted.

The recycling company made the comment as the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) in Northern Ireland announced £23 million of funding through its Household Waste Recycling Collaborative Change Programme to improve the quality of material collected at the kerbside.

Bryson Recycling is urging local authorities to take advantage of this funding and introduce the Wheelie Box to their kerbside collection services. This is a system of multiple stackable recycling boxes fitted onto a wheeled trolley, enabling householders to separate their dry recycling without the need to move or lift any individual compartment. The entire Wheelie Box can then be wheeled out to the street for collection.

The Wheelie Box is known in Wales as the Trolibocs recycling system and is highlighted as a preferred method of collection by the Welsh Government in its ‘Collections Blueprint’, setting out how councils can boost their recycling rates and improve the quality of material collected. The Trolibocs were first launched by Conwy Council in 2014, with feedback during trials showing 97 per cent of users were happy with the system. The council estimates that using the wheeled sorting system has boosted dry recycling by 600 tonnes a year, saving £60,000 worth of material from landfill.

In Northern Ireland, the Wheelie Box was pioneered by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which has since become the top performing council in the country, with a 52.8 per cent recycling rate. Trials in other local authorities are already taking place, with Belfast City Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council all considering the introduction of Wheelie Boxes.

Bryson Recycling has predicted that 350,000 households would eventually be supplied with Wheelie Boxes if these councils all switched fully to the service. In 2017, Northern Ireland's Collaborative Circular Economy Network (CCEN) reported that kerbside sort boxes could unlock £50-million worth of unrealised economic value in the country through making more high-quality recycling available. 

Separating recyclables at home is one way to reduce contamination and ensure that as much material as possible actually ends up being recycled – a growing concern for many people as a growing number of media reports suggest that some recycling could be being incinerated or dumped overseas.

In addition, a recent report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also suggested that use of stackable recycling systems like the Wheelie Boxes could result in a 62 per cent reduction in manual handling risks for refuse collectors when used in conjunction with Romaquip Kerb-Sort vehicles, which have multiple compartments to correspond to the different bins.

Commenting on the Wheelie Boxes, Director of Bryson Recycling Eric Randall said: “We are delighted to see Antrim and Newtownabbey top the recycling polls and commend them for taking the decision to introduce this ground-breaking collection service. We need to think differently about our waste – it is a resource, and we need to ensure that we collect and process it in a way that has the least environmental impact and the greatest benefit to the local economy.

“We believe the Wheelie Box model has enormous potential to be rolled out across Northern Ireland and that local councils have a real opportunity to make the switch thanks to the support and funding of DAERA”.

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