Where does your recycling go?

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Another unusual farm diversification project…but Chris and Simon Mountain’s East Midlands waste management and recycling centre has been so successful that they now rent out the family farm and have essentially diversified out of farming all together.

It all started at the end of the 90s with two skip lorries (which they inherited when someone couldn’t pay their debts) and a knackered old shed on a site near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.  One agricultural and one industrial design student, the two brothers seem to complement each other and, alongside another brother who runs the bulk transport arm of the business, have successfully managed to develop the business to the point that they now operate over 50 vehicles and run both a 15 acre purpose-built MRF (materials recycling facility) with a 120,000 tonnes per annum waste management license and a 50,000 tonnes per annum recycling centre based just outside Peterborough.

We met up with them at the MRF, where they kindly kitted us out with high-vis jackets and gave us a tour of their recycling operations.  If you think how much waste there is at Christmas, you can imagine how busy they are at this time of the year.  It was a hive of activity, with one council recycling vehicle after another arriving with piles of orange bags to be sorted.  A lot of it is done by machine using clever magnetic and infrared systems to pick different materials out, but a lot of the more unusual stuff is still picked out by hand – so bear that in mind when you next fill your recycling sack!

Where does your recycling go?

Lucy and Emma dwarfed by cans

They recycle all sorts of things on site, including paper, plastics, metal and woodwaste, and are constantly trying to develop innovative new practices.  They have recently come up with a new process using bespoke machines to recycle 100% of used plasterboard, which is the first commercial scheme to separate the paper from the gypsum so that they can recycle all the material.

Where does your recycling go?

Squished cans

If they can recycle absolutely everything that they take in it is a win-win situation as they are paid to take the waste and then have an end product to sell.   They are currently building an energy-from-waste plant at the MRF to convert non-hazardous waste wood to renewable electricity, which they can then export to the National Grid.
It is an impressive set-up and fascinating to know what happens to your little orange sack once it is taken by the bin men.

For more information about how they process and recycle waste, visit www.midukrecycling.co.uk.  For more information about their skip hire and waste management services, visit www.greenmountains.co.uk.