Recycling – making a difference
18th May 2022
Ever thought what happens to the items you put in the recycling bin, or take to a recycling centre, commonly known as ‘The Tip’? In Suffolk it’s down to FCC Environment, the UK’s leading waste and resource management company, based at Masterlord Office Village. The company manages business and municipal waste from 1.3m people across the country to recycle and process and turn green waste into valuable compost.
It’s part of a huge operation employing over 55,000 people in the UK, Europe, Africa, the USA and South America, with 2,500 staff based in the UK. In Suffolk, FCC Environment operates 11 recycling centres to sort and repurpose our unwanted items. Looking after them is Contracts Manager Paul Smith, who has 18 years’ waste industry experience. He was a research biologist in pharmaceuticals for 25 years, transferring those skills to his new role.
“The challenge is separating the waste, using both automatic and manual sorting,” says Paul Smith. “It’s all about materials recovery, with anything that cannot be recycled going to generate energy for the national grid. People want to do the right thing by recycling. There’s more awareness of the impact on the planet of everything from packaging to plastics.”
An innovation at some Suffolk recycling centres is re-use shops, allowing people to buy unwanted items that would otherwise have been thrown away, such as furniture or toys. Operated by charity partner the Benjamin Foundation, the shops have proved hugely popular. The Benjamin Foundation use their profits to provide supported and sheltered accommodation for disadvantaged young people across Suffolk.
FCC Environment also has a proactive education programme, taking the recycling message to schools and colleges and local community groups.
There are two areas where we can all help to make recycling easier: rinse plastic containers and ready-meal packaging to remove food residue, as this gloop can affect the sorting machinery. And don’t put disposable nappies in the recycling bin. Think about it! They contaminate the recycling process.
“No two days are the same,’ adds Paul. “At our recycling centres, we’re there to advise and help people, and train our staff in customer service, health and safety and environmental law. We also provide a chargeable service for trade waste. Everyone has a part to play in making sure we re-use, recycle or recover by producing energy from waste. Landfill is the final option.”