Encirc visit highlights the importance of how we collect recyclable materials

October 2023
Nicola Carruthers, Anna McErlean and Fiacre O’Donnell.

Alliance Party NI Business Support Officer, Anna McErlean and Nicola Carruthers, a consultant with Keep Recycling Local visited the Encirc factory in Derrylin recently to gain an insight into the company’s sustainability strategy.

Anna and Nicola enjoyed a tour of the factory to see first hand the manufacturing process in operation.

Encirc Director of Sustainability, Fiacre O’Donnell commented: “It was great to have Anna from the Alliance Party and Nicola from Keep Recycling Local come down to Derrylin. There is a really important debate going on as to how we collect our recyclable materials and ensure that we keep them in Northern Ireland to make into new products for the benefit of local companies, the local economy, and the environment.”

How we collect recyclables is crucial.

When glass is mixed in blue bins with cardboard and the like, at the very best 37 per cent is sent for the manufacture of new bottles. At least 65 per cent of the rest is lost as waste with the remainder used as aggregate. Everything is exported outside of Northern Ireland.

In Northern Ireland we export over 91,000 tonnes of recyclables around the world every year.

When glass is collected separately in Wheelie Boxes with separate compartments, as is being proposed and debated at the minute, 84 per cent is sent to manufacture new bottles in Northern Ireland. Almost all the rest is used as aggregate and remains in Northern Ireland.

It is also estimated that collecting recyclables separately, not co-mingling as many councils in Northern Ireland do now, could save councils in the region of £12m.

So changing how we collect our recyclables by separating them at the collection point will mean that more glass will be recycled as well as the other products.

Recycled glass, known as cullet, is a much more sustainable option in glass making and is so important to Encirc’s sustainable business plan.

Cullet requires less energy in the manufacturing process because it has a lower melting point. In addition, the more cullet we use, then the less of the other raw materials that are needed in glass production.

Consequently, CO2 emissions across the board are reduced. A 10 per cent increase in glass cullet into the container glass melting mixture can decrease energy consumption by 2-3 per cent, resulting in a 5 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

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