Recycling and recovery

Great North Run’s thirst for recycling

Plastic water bottles discarded by thirsty athletes at this year’s Great North Run are to be recovered and used to build a greenhouse.

Thousands of the drink bottles are discarded by runners every year as they rehydrate during the course of the historic, world-famous race.

There are three water stations along the Great North Run route, each with 45,000 bottles. That’s 135,000 water bottles that would historically have been sent to landfill. But this year The South Tyne and Wear Waste Management Partnership, which comprises Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils is working with its waste and recycling partner, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, to recover a proportion of those bottles and use them to build a greenhouse at its Visitor and Education Centre in Wrekenton.

The visitor and education centre was opened in 2014 by local soccer legend, Bob Moncur and has since hosted numerous local schools and community groups interested in finding our more about waste and recycling in the North East. It is managed by environmental charity, Groundwork North East and Cumbria.

Groundwork’s Wendy Fail, Visitor and Education Centre Co-ordinator, said:

“The purpose of the greenhouse is to demonstrate how plastic bottles can be re-used to make something functional, which can then also be an education tool to show children and adults how fruit and veg are grown. It will also be a catalyst for discussion about food waste.”

Construction of the greenhouse will begin during National Recycle Week from 12 September 2016, which will also see the Visitor and Education Centre play host to a number of school and community groups. This includes pupils from Keelman’s Way School in South Tyneside, which caters for children and young people with profound and multiple learning and physical disabilities. Pupils will be using their visit to install art created from old plastic bottle tops.

The Centre will also be branching out into the community with a number of Roadshows aimed at providing information about recycling and what happens to the waste we all throw away. As well as information and advice to help people recycle more, the roadshows will include a number of fun activities such as competitions, gift bags and face painting. This will all take place throughout the week at:

  • Saltwell Park, Low Fell, Gateshead between 10am and 2pm on Monday 12 September
  • Roker Pods, Roker Beach, Sunderland between 3.30pm and 6pm on Monday 12 September
  • Trinity Square, Gateshead between 9am and 5pm on Wednesday 14 September
  • Sage, Gateshead between 5pm and 7pm on Thursday 15 September and between 11am and 2pm on Saturday 17 September.

Now in its 13th year, Recycle Week is a celebration of recycling and this year people are being encouraged to consider recycling items that often get forgotten about when recycling at home, things such as shampoo bottles, bleach bottles, jam jars, deodorant cans and waste electrical and electronic equipment. All of these, and much more besides, can be recycled at the four household waste recycling centres operated by SUEZ at Campground, Wrekenton and Cowen Road, Blaydon in Gateshead; Middlefields Recycling Village in South Tyneside and Beach Street in Sunderland.

And residents visiting the Beach Street household waste recycling centre in Sunderland to recycle waste electrical and electronic equipment on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September can also enter a competition to win £100.