Zero waste centre coming to
21 March 2008 11:02
Britain's first zero waste
centre could be built in South Norfolk after council bosses signed an agreement
to try to create the pioneering �7m facility.
The innovative centre,
which could create up to 120 jobs, would be a place where people could take
unwanted waste and get paid for it to be taken off their hands, while the items
would then be sold to other people.
That would reduce the amount of waste
ending up in landfill - help negate the need for controversial plants such as
incinerators - and encourage more people to buy into the idea of
The idea of zero waste centres, also known as resource
recovery parks, have taken off in the United States, with one of the most
successful based in Berkeley, near San Francisco.
The Urban Ore centre
there is an enormous warehouse spread over three acres, filled with everything
from rows of toilets and window frames to retro furniture, toys, records and
So far the concept has not transferred to the United Kingdom, but
Lowestoft-based social enterprise Bright Green wants to replicate that idea in
The centre would be designed to recycle and different a dozen
types of waste and discarded materials, with processed products becoming
available for immediate resale in their current state or for use in
The 12 categories are: paper, polymers (such as plastics,
rubbers, etc, metals, chemicals, textiles, soils, ceramics, green waste,
putrescibles (for example food waste and animal slurry), wood and
The idea is that other social enterprises and innovative
businesses would also spring up to make use of the resources available at the
Yesterday a landmark memo of understanding was signed by Bright
Green and South Norfolk Council, which means the authority's officers have
agreed to support the scheme and find a site for it, while Bright Green will be
responsible for securing money for the site and running it.
will deal with 100,000 tonnes of waste every year, serving between 200,000 and
Maxine Narburgh , director of Bright Green and a
University of East Anglia graduate, said the cost of setting up the centre could
be met by obtaining grants from the Government, European funding sources and
organisations such as the East of England Development Agency
Money from EEDA, the Environment Agency and Defra (Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has already been used for research into how
the scheme would work and, once up and running, Ms Narburgh said the goal is for
the centre to effectively pay for itself, through the sale of reusable
Ms Narburgh said: "We will reward people for recycling, so if
someone comes with something which has a resale value we will pay them for it.
It is effectively paying them for their good behaviour.
"We divide up
waste into 12 categories, which we call the "clean dozen", so if we design the
centre to take in waste from all of those categories then we can deal with
everything, although that might not all be possible in the first
"If, say, it takes 18 months to find a suitable site, secure
planning permission and then start the work on the site, we could have it
operational within six to eight months of that.
"Without the support of
the council we would not be in a position to do this and I am delighted they
have said they will support us."
David Bills, Hethersett councillor and
South Norfolk cabinet member for the environment, said: "This ticks a lot of
boxes for us. I first got involved with this last May and from that moment on I
have become more and more impressed in the possibilities this idea will
"I thought if somebody doesn't do something with this soon we
will all miss out so we decided to look at it more closely. I put it to my
cabinet colleagues and the finance chaps at the council and the support is there
"We will be working in partnership with Norfolk Waste
Partnership, Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and Broadland District
Council, which will all be able to use the facilities we will be coming up
About 1/7th of the waste dealt with by the centre will be from
households, with the rest made of trade and business waste.
The move is
the latest effort by South Norfolk Council to reduce waste ending up in
landfill. Council chairman Joe Mooney recently launched a Say No to plastic bags
campaign to encourage families and retailers in the district to stop using
plastic bags, and switch to more environmentally friendly
Norwich City Council has previously expressed an interest
in creating a waste recovery park somewhere in the city, but were hampered by
the lack of a suitable site.
And Bright Green's previous proposal to
create a zero waste park in Lowestoft came unstuck when the site they were keen
on turned out to be a site of archaeological importance.
The scheme was
today welcomed by members of NAIL2 (Norfolk Against Incineration and Landfill)
who joined the Evening News in the fight to stop Norfolk County Council from
allowing a company to build an �90m incinerator in Costessey.
Mitchell, from campaign group NAIL2, said: "We welcome this and it is wonderful
news. It's exciting news and I'm very pleased for Maxine, who has made
presentations about zero waste to us in the past.
"It's just as shame
that South Norfolk Council did not sign up to councillor Tim East's motion for
them to oppose incineration."
Do you think a zero waste centre scheme
would work in Norfolk? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen
Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email firstname.lastname@example.org