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[GreenYes] Zero waste centre coming to Norfolk?


Zero waste centre coming to Norfolk?

DAN GRIMMER
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 recycling.

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 books.

So far the concept has not transferred to the United Kingdom, but Lowestoft-based social enterprise Bright Green wants to replicate that idea in Norfolk.

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 manufacturing.

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 glass.

The idea is that other social enterprises and innovative businesses would also spring up to make use of the resources available at the site.

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.

The centre will deal with 100,000 tonnes of waste every year, serving between 200,000 and 220,000 people.

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 (EEDA).

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 items.

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 phase.

"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 create.

"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 for it.

"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 with."

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 alternatives.

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.

Linda 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 eveningnewsletters@no.address


 
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