Following the waste trail

As we all know, there is a real spotlight at present on waste processes and the ultimate end destination for the recycling materials that we all work so hard to segregate. At Cawleys, we pride ourselves on being a transparent organisation and we are often asked by clients where their recyclate ends up once it has passed through our depot.  As part of our client on-boarding process, we always do our upmost to ensure that all of our clients understand our  collection and segregation processes. We offer visits to our Material Recovery Facilities as standard, where our clients can witness first-hand how we extract as many recyclable materials as possible.  We also provide full disclosure regarding the end destination for our segregated recycling materials. Recently however, we've had more interest around where the segregated materials actually go and what happens to them once they have been collected sorted and dispatched to their next destination.

Public concern

In part, this public interest in the end destination for recylables has been driven by TV shows such as Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall 's ‘War on Plastic’, where he highlighted the issue of surplus  materials being shipped to countries who are struggling to deal with it. As such, is no longer enough for us to simply tell our customers how we manage their waste, we're now keen to provide more details regarding outlets and end destinations.

Trusted partners

Fortunately, Cawleys has always made it a priority to work with partners who ensure sustainability and second-life for waste. Our company has a strong network of reprocessors and a number of direct relationships across the globe to maximise recycling levels and generate revenue both for us as a business, and for our customers in the form of rebate values.  We understand the intricacies of our obligations and shipments, and spend a great deal of time and effort in ensuring the material is of the highest standard before it leaves our depots.  We regularly audit our partners processes and paperwork to ensure compliance, and provide the necessary documentation to demonstrate this.  However, some clients are keen to see for themselves what happens to their waste.

Following the waste journey

One such client, David Berryman of David Berryman Ltd did exactly that.  A long standing client of ours, David trades and works closely with fruit juice industry bodies across the world, and in particular the Far East.  His counterparts question him on the effects of waste from around the world, including the UK, and he has taken a deeply personal interest in understanding exactly what happens with his organisation's business waste when it is collected from his site and taken back to Cawleys.

During one of David's recent visits to our depot, he asked for us to arrange a visit to the end destination of his plastic waste. Although a fairly unusual request, we were fully on-board with the idea, not only would David uncover his waste journey, we could also use his visit to inform other customers of the measures we take to follow the process end to end.

The trip was arranged and we headed off to the Netherlands to view the three locations that David’s waste was delivered to. Once there, we were shown how it is processed and what the end product looks like before resale into the relevant markets for reuse.

On the Netherlands Recycling trail

The locations for each stage were widely spread across the country.  Firstly, we headed to the south of the country where we were given a tour of a large warehousing facility full of a multitude of differing materials. The facility exists to further enhance the quality of recyclables delivered to it. This is done through a variety of picking processes. Further segregation to the highest possible quality maximises resale value to manufacturers in Holland and Belgium, including a number of rinsing and shredding processes preparing the product for efficient reuse.  There is an element of contamination through the process, but where the quality is too low to represent a resale value, this is delivered in to a local cement factory for incineration as an energy source.   There is also a very large volume of hard plastic which is carefully segregated in to a variety of different materials, quality and colour, all of which can either be resold in its current form, or sent for granulation within the country, or further afield in their new shredding facility in the Balkans.

On arriving in the north of the country, we visited other facilities where the sorted recycling we had seen previously, were presented as products for reuse.  Most visibly, this was in the form of pelletised hard plastics and clean plastic films ready for transport within the Netherlands, or further afield.  Our hosts were very open in how they deal with the materials, and, while some of their outputs do reach the far eastern markets, these are as products and not as a waste for processing.

Reporting Matters

Finally, we had an explanation of the paperwork; how incoming and outgoing paperwork is managed electronically, enabling organisations to have full visibility around the recycling trail, as well as how any quality issues are highlighted and managed.  The organisation has a very high standing in the Dutch waste market, and it carefully selects its partners to ensure they maintain a high quality of materials commercially benefiting all parties. As such they are very unforgiving where shortcuts are attempted to deliver in sub-standard recyclables.

The visit was a highly successful initiative, its aim was to satisfy our clients' need for full transparency and David Berryman was highly impressed with the efficient and responsible manner in which his recyclable waste is processed. It also reassured him of Cawleys' commitment to the environment and ‘doing the right thing’ which we are extremely proud of.



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