Bryson Recycling has revealed a proposal that could tackle the climate crisis, slash waste exports, create jobs and help local businesses thrive through a simpler, consistent approach to waste collection.
With Bryson’s model more than 20% of households in Northern Ireland already have plastics, glass, paper, cans and textiles collected separately on a weekly basis. This ensures that higher quality materials can remain in the country and be recycled by local companies, boosting the economy and creating employment.
Bryson Recycling is owned by the Bryson Charitable Group and is the leading social enterprise recycler in the UK. It employs over 320 staff, operates 11 recycling centres in Northern Ireland, Donegal, and Wales, and provides collection services for garden and residual waste.
The call to introduce single collection system that pre-sorts materials collected could save local councils £12m a year. It would also help the environment, boost recycling rates, strengthen the local economy, businesses, and communities. It will ensure less reliance on exports and lower both waste generation and carbon emissions in the fight against climate change.
The plans were discussed with DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA during a site visit at Bryson’s Recycling facility in Mallusk.
Minister for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Minister Edwin Poots said: “It is great to visit Bryson Recycling to see first-hand the key role they play in helping Northern Ireland transition to a circular economy. Their work has greatly assisted in contributing towards our current recycling performance and in helping to reduce carbon emissions from the waste sector.
“Whilst there has been a slight downturn in recycling rates during the pandemic, my focus is now on making sure we normalise recycling behaviours and re-establish the positive, upward trend in recycling which existed pre-Covid.
“New recycling targets under the Circular Economy Package have been set at 65% by 2035, but I would like to see Northern Ireland being even more ambitious and achieving a higher recycling rate by an earlier date. I believe it is important to realise the value of recycling to the local economy as well as delivering important environmental benefits. That is why I am keen to develop and implement proposals which will improve both the quality and quantity of recycling in Northern Ireland.”
The reprocessing industry in Northern Ireland currently contributes over £100m a year to the local economy but they need more locally sourced quality recyclables to meet current business demand.
The approach used by Bryson works by sending quality paper, plastic and glass collected separately to companies such as Huhtamaki, Cherry Pipes and Encirc who transform materials into new products for well-known brands such as McDonalds, Skea, Bushmills and Baileys.
Cherry Pipes in Dungannon converts plastic bottles collected into pipes for the agricultural, civil engineering and sportsfield sectors. Glass is sent to Encirc in Fermanagh where they turn the glass into bottles for food and drinks companies for well-known brands such as Bushmills and Baileys.
Huhtamaki is the world leader in environmentally friendly moulded fibre packaging. The company in Lurgan uses 100% recycled paper and card to manufacture egg boxes for retailers such as Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer’s and cup carriers for brands such as McDonalds & Starbucks.
Eric Randall, Director at Bryson Recycling says: “We believe a single collection system is achievable and will help us reach ambitious recycling targets alongside the best environmental and social outcomes. The recycling industry contributes significantly to our economy and this model offers the potential to grow businesses and the economy further, whilst playing a vital role in helping the environment.
“Currently, around 50% of our waste ends up in a landfill and 65% of our recyclables are exported from NI. Local businesses have no choice but to ship in quality recycled waste to Northern Ireland to meet the demands of their business. A simple, consistent approach NI wide would enable these manufacturers to access high quality local materials that in turn would benefit the economy, cut carbon emissions and generate employment.
“Through our social enterprise model in the last year, we collected 65,000 tonnes of waste that has enabled substantial investment in the local economy, providing much needed support to the most vulnerable in our society through sister companies, Bryson Energy and Bryson Care. Every penny we earn goes towards making life better for the people of Northern Ireland.
“Adopting our approach to separate collections and recycling the right way, will benefit the local economy, workforce, and environment. It will save jobs, save money, and lead to dramatic increases in Northern Ireland’s recycling rates.”