Recycle Locally to Win War on Plastics

All of the plastic we sell for recycling goes to companies in the UK and Ireland - that is the message from Bryson Recycling following the BBC programme "War on Plastic" which showed mountains of plastic waste from the UK intended for recycling which has been shipped to Malaysia then dumped or burned.

Bryson Recycling employee

In the new three-part BBC One series campaigner and chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall follows the 6500 mile journey from the UK to Malaysia while investigating where our waste goes and if it is being properly recycled.

Last year 650,000 tons of plastic waste were exported by the UK. Until 2018 China was the biggest recipient but their government placed a ban on the trade and now Malaysia is the world's biggest importer of plastic waste. In the last year Malaysia have taken up to 130,000 tons of UK waste, much of which has ended up in illegal processing sites causing significant harm to the environment.

Social enterprise, Bryson Recycling, believes we should take responsibility for where waste from Northern Ireland goes to be recycled and their Director, Eric Randall, has called on local councils and recycling companies to ensure that all materials collected for recycling go to responsible end destinations:

When householders put items in their recycling boxes or bins they are entitled to think that it is recycled responsibly and it is our role to ensure that happens. At Bryson Recycling we focus on recycling locally and all the plastic materials we process are sold to companies in the UK or Ireland who do their own recycling. We need to think differently about our waste - it is a resource, and we must ensure that we collect and process it in a way that has the least environmental impact and the greatest benefit to the local economy.

Bryson collect recycling from a quarter on Northern Irish households using a box or Wheelie Box collection service. Using this type of collection system they can collect the widest range of materials, including glass, whilst maintaining their quality, so that the materials are of a suitable standard for local companies to remanufacture into new items, which is better for the environment and the economy supporting local jobs.

Over 85% of the materials Bryson collects through their kerbside box service stay in Northern Ireland to be recycled, adding over £100 million to the local economy and supporting more than 1000 jobs. Eric, added:

The plastic we collect is not a waste, it's a valuable raw materials that can be used by local companies to make new products. All of the plastics we collect are sold to UK or Irish companies that carry out their own recycling rather than exporting, with the vast majority going to Cherry Pipes who convert the plastic into pipes for the agricultural, civil engineering and construction industries at their sites in Crumlin, Lurgan and Dungannon.


Extra notes:

For more information go to

·         Bryson Recycling offers a weekly recycling collection service to over 170,000 homes in the following council areas: Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Belfast City Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and Antrim and Newtownabbey District Council.

·         Recycling locally reduces the distance materials need to be transported therefore reducing the carbon footprint.  To ensure more can be recycled locally there needs to be a focus on how it is collected.  The carbon footprint of a co-mingled collection system is 77% greater than the kerbsort collection system (Source - the climate change impacts of recycling services in Wales, Eunomia for WRAP, Sept 2016).

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