- Oct 20, 2016

On the back of a 6 year contract win with Durham County Council (DCC), North East based Recycling business O’Brien have teamed up in a joint effort to engage with and help residents understand what happens to their household recycling across County Durham. The ‘Bin it right’ education campaign was launched by DCC in May 2014 to raise awareness of the ‘right’ materials to recycle and encourage residents to recycle correctly.

As a part of the contract, all DCC household recycling is delivered to the O’Brien Sunderland Recycling Centre where it is sorted after passing through the Material Recycling Facility (MRF). The newly sorted materials (plastics, cardboard, paper, metals) are then baled up and supplied to various re-processors to be recycled into new products.

Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman recently visited the Washington plant with staff from DCC and commented:

“Recycling is valuable for the planet and for the community. By recycling correctly, we keep rubbish off the streets, cut costs, and do our bit for the environment. I would encourage everyone to sort their waste so it can be recycled.”

As part of the contract O’Brien monitor the levels of contamination (the wrong materials in the wrong bin such as nappies, food waste and dog/pet waste) in the recycling produced by different areas in County Durham. This is achieved through daily reports following delivery of the recycling materials. Weekly reports are also produced detailing individual material volumes, including contamination.

Jo Blackie, Contract Team Manager at DCC commented:

“The waste management reports produced by O’Brien are extremely beneficial to us, helping us to identify which areas in the county need further engagement. Increasing the quality of the recycled materials we deliver to O’Brien will reduce the Council’s costs, allowing us to spend more on other services”.

Kevin Hawkes, Senior Operations Manager from O’Brien commented:

“Over the years we have found all manner of strange and wonderful things that people have put in their recycling bin. Recently all of this was topped when we found a 6ft python rumbling up the MRF sorting belt. The animal wasn’t alive but it did give the staff a shock.

“We also receive contamination including used nappies, textiles, shoes, black bags and food waste. These materials are not recyclable at this facility and it’s unpleasant for the staff who have to manually pick and sort them from the ‘clean’ recyclable materials. We are trying to encourage residents to only use the recycling bins for the correct materials”.

To help the council with its ‘Bin it right’ education campaign, O’Brien recently donated 2 iPads to the recycling assistants in the strategic waste team to help educate local residents as to what can and can’t be recycled in their recycling bin. Alongside this the council have launched a Facebook page for residents, called: ‘Recycle for County Durham’, which provides handy tips and information on recycling www.facebook.com/recycleforcountydurham/

Victoria Burrell, Waste Strategy Team Manager from DCC commented:

“We have a range of planned activities including posting a series of media pieces to our Facebook page which detail the amazing journey that our recycling takes from collection at the kerbside, to being sorted by O’Brien at their MRF and then supplied to re-processors to be recycled into new goods. We are also looking for community engagement and would encourage residents to connect with us on our Facebook page”.

Nathan O’Brien, Managing Director of O’Brien Waste Recycling Solutions commented:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working closely with DCC on this excellent engagement and educational programme. It makes complete sense that we, as a partnership, engage with residents to explain what can and can’t go into their recycling bins and then what we do with that recycling. We meet people on a daily basis who are amazed at how the recycling they produce is sorted. What Durham County Council are doing is an example to other authorities on how to genuinely tackle contamination and continuously monitor performance once a recycling service is in place. We can already see improvements in the material and look forward to increasing the recycling performance over the coming months”.

John Shannon, Strategic Waste Manager added:

“We’re proud of the results we’ve seen so far through the ‘Bin it right’ campaign and we’ve been recognised nationally by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) as sharing best practice with other councils on contamination. We look forward to continuing to improve our recycling across the county working closely with O’Brien.


O’Brien Waste Recycling celebrates its 10th anniversary in October 2016. During that time it has grown to a £25m turnover organisation with employees across 6 facilities. The business operates 6 MRFs (Material Recycling Facility) in the region and has recently started further development works at its Teesside Recycling Centre. Their goal is to continuously provide innovative, great value, environmentally friendly and reliable waste recycling solutions.

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