Council to send recycling waste to Ireland

The contents of Borderers’ blue-lidded bins will be heading over the sea to Northern Ireland as Scottish Borders Council awarded the £5.4m contract to Newry-based company Regen Waste.

The contents of Borderers' blue-lidded bins will be bulked up as normal at the council's waste transfer stations, but will then be sent to Northern Ireland to be sorted. Photo: Bill McBurnie
The contents of Borderers' blue-lidded bins will be bulked up as normal at the council's waste transfer stations, but will then be sent to Northern Ireland to be sorted. Photo: Bill McBurnie

That will mean our recycling waste will travel more than 200 miles, including a ferry trip, to be sorted.

Currently, the council sends its co-mingled mixed recyclate to Hartlepool, a journey of 104 miles, but this time round, the Northern Irish company was the only one to tender for the three-year contract, which is set to cost the council £5.4m if the option of four one-year extensions are taken.

The Southern asked the council about the ecological drawbacks of sending the recyclate over the sea.

A spokesperson told us: “We are working with the contractor to maximise the tonnage for each journey to minimise haulage impacts and the contractor also does backload trips so the vehicles are not running empty on either leg of their journey from Northern Ireland.

“It's important to note, too, that it is a global market for the end products once sorted, so whether going to Hartlepool (as before) or Northern Ireland the end product from the contractor is then being transported all over the world.”

Ross Sharp-Dent, waste and passenger transport manager for Scottish Borders Council, said: “Following the expiry of our previous contract for the transport and processing of dry mixed recycling, a procurement exercise was undertaken by the council with the available contract put out to tender.

“The successful company, Re-gen, a Northern Ireland based recycling and waste management specialist is a market leader in the processing of and recovery of recyclable materials and currently works for a number of other Scottish local authorities.

“The contract will see Re-gen provide the same service as our previous contractor and process all of the same materials for recycling. As a result there will be no change experienced by the public in terms of what can be put in their bins.

“In 2019 SBC achieved a total recycling rate of 49%, representing an increase of over 10% from the previous year and the largest increase of any local authority in Scotland.

“This is significantly higher than the national recycling average (44.9%) and positions SBC as the highest performing rural local authority in Scotland.

“The increase in recycling performance also coincides with a significant reduction in the amount of waste reaching landfill and a reduction in carbon emissions of 11,000 tonnes CO2e between 2018 and 2019.

“Recycling is one of the easiest everyday actions we can take to reduce our carbon footprint and I would encourage members of the public to play their part.

A new online platform has been created to help people across the Scottish Borders recycle more by telling them what can and can’t be recycled in their area.”