Recycling and recovery

SUEZ and Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority Celebrate 10 Year Anniversary of Contract Signing

SUEZ recycling and recovery UK and Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority are celebrating 10 years of partnership, with a vast 2.5 million tonnes of waste transported from the rail transfer loading station in Knowsley.

SUEZ manages Merseyside and Halton’s residual waste on behalf of Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MRWA) following the contract signing in 2013. Residual waste from across the region arrives at the rail transfer loading station (RTLS) in Kirkby, Knowsley, where it is compacted into rail containers and sent by rail to the Wilton energy-from-waste facility in Teesside to generate electricity – enough electricity each year to power the equivalent of over 63,000 homes.

Since rail was implemented on the contract in 2016, almost 2.5 million tonnes of waste has been transported – that’s almost 180,000 double decker buses – and has resulted in almost 125,000 artic lorry journeys taken off the road, preventing over 22,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year (the average car in the UK emits around 1.7 metric tonnes over a whole year).

Lesley Worswick, Chief Executive of MRWA, said: “The day we signed the contract was the day we put in place a sustainable waste management solution for 30 years. It's a solution that saves natural resources, generates green electricity, and provides value for money for Merseyside and Halton council taxpayers.

"Our partnership with SUEZ has helped deliver modern and efficient facilities that apply the highest environmental standards in tackling the region's waste. We look forward to continuing our relationship for many years to come."

Ever aiming to make improvements, the team identified the opportunity to transform the process by filling the containers according to weight rather than by pressure, which led to more waste being transported on fewer trains. The project vastly improved the efficiency of the process – there have been 36 fewer train journeys per year and over 7,500 tonnes of carbon saved annually since its inception. It was a revolutionary project which won them an Award for Innovation of the Year at the 2022 Awards for Excellence in Recycling and Waste Management.

In line with our SUEZ triple bottom line approach of people, planet, profit, the contract has also created a number of apprenticeship opportunities over the last ten years in engineering and administration, as well as a partnership with a local college to provide work placements for engineering students.

We also created a community fund for the local community in 2018 - the Kirkby Neighbourhood Community Fund - with a value of 10p per tonne exported by rail from the RTLS, providing up to £55,000 each year, for the duration of the contract. The Fund has now invested more than £330,000 over the last six years into the local area to a wide range of community projects and charities, and it is estimated that we will have invested over £1 million over the duration of the partnership.

Victoria Crabtree, SUEZ Regional Manager, said: “It’s wonderful to see the impact of the contract over the last decade, particularly from an environmental perspective such as the impressive carbon savings achieved from taking lorry journeys off the road, and avoiding more than 127,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year by diverting residual waste from going to landfill, and instead utilising this resource to generate sustainable energy.

“One of my favourite aspects of the contract has been witnessing the positive contribution to the local community through the Kirkby Neighbourhood Community Fund, and hearing about all the amazing projects receiving support at the annual awards ceremony which is a major highlight of my year.

“When we partnered with MRWA in 2013, we had a shared vision of creating a society where there is no more waste. We look forward to continuing our work together towards realising that mission as we develop the solutions that will help us move closer to achieving a circular economy.”

Employees at the Kirkby site also regularly volunteer with a wide variety of community-led projects, and a number of partnerships have been built with local organisations in Kirkby, such as with the Eco Therapy Garden Project which provides the community with a therapy garden, a safe facilitated green space, and offers combined services of Eco and Talking Therapy, for the improvement of health, and opportunities for social engagement, integration and learning.

Angela Davies, Founder and Project Manager at the Eco Therapy Garden said: “We would like to say a big thank you to SUEZ for their support over the years - the assistance we have received has been invaluable. From helping put together a kids play area to installing a pond and cutting back brambles, the volunteers have been amazing. SUEZ are great friends of the garden, and our local community, and we look forward to continuing our partnership into the future.”