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Words and photos by Colin Smeeton
Environmental campaigners and those with an interest in where their waste ends up attended Eco Savvy’s recent day at the dump in Brodick.
The informative tour of the Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) was conducted by landfill transfer station and HWRC supervisor for North Ayrshire Council, Jake Elliott, and waste awareness team member Tylar McBreen.
While sounding like a rather unpleasant topic, the tour of the facilities actually provided attendees with an insight into how waste is dealt with on Arran – and further afield – with particular relevance on recycling and reuse, one of the core tenets of Eco Savvy.
Visitors were ‘talked through’ the steps that are taken while being able to witness the actual events taking place at the facilities. From the arrival of the refuse collection vehicles, who collect both domestic and commercial waste from the entire island, to the bulked up and compacted product that is ready to be transported off the island.
The large metal containers that hold between 12 and 14 tons of waste are shipped off on the ferry, sometimes making two trips a day at a cost of roughly £150, 000 a year in ferry fees alone.
As there are no longer any landfill sites in North Ayrshire since May 2018 – and the remainder of all landfill sites in the UK closing in 2021 – non recyclable waste goes to an energy plant in Dunbar where it is incinerated to produce energy as part of the Clyde Valley Residual Waste Project.
The recyclable blue bin waste goes to Northern Ireland to be processed and sorted for recycling. Approximately 17-18 per cent of the blue bin waste is contaminated and not suitable for recycling.
Some organisations that specialise in dealing with certain waste streams collect items and process them for further use; cooking oil and motor oil is used to make bio diesel, televisions and computer monitors are processed by another organisation who use them for parts and recycle the components.
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 return a small tonnage back to Arran for the public to collect from the HWRC, usually a couple of times a year.
In North Ayrshire the current recycling rate is 56 per cent with the target of 70 per cent set for 2025. Since opening the Brodick HWRC in 2017 this has diverted approximately 500 tonnes of waste from landfill to recycling a year.
Arran Eco Savvy project coordinator Ruth Mclaren said: ‘Thank you to Jake and Tylar from NAC for giving us this hugely interesting tour of the waste and recycling facilities on Arran. Most people now are aware of the importance of recycling and it was very good to actually see the process in action and hear about little things that we as residents can do, such as making sure whatever we put in the recycling is clean and taking care to make sure “scrunch-able” plastic film doesn’t get put in the blue bin.
‘It was fascinating to learn about what happens to our waste once it leaves Arran and heartening to hear that so much of it is recycled.’
Councillor Timothy Billings, who happened to be making use of the site, took the opportunity to make a few improvement suggestions to supervisor Jake Elliott. 01_B34dump01
Supervisor Jake Elliott and Tylar McBreen explain to visitors how waste is dealt with on Arran. .01_B34dump02
Eco Savvy project coordinator Ruth McLaren sought clarity on a number of questions poised by members. 01_B34dump03
Visitors at the Eco Savvy day at the dump are pictured at the textile recycling section of the HWRC. 01_B34dump04
Visitors watch as a refuse collection vehicle unloads its cargo at the processing facility. 01_B34dump05