Feb 22

CIWM NGG Group North West, Site Visit – Gowy Landfill and Composting Facility

NGG North West Site Visit

CIWM organised a site visit for the New Generation Group in the North West today and I was lucky enough to have replied early and got a place (ten on the reserve list).

Daydreaming on the M6

I unfortunately was daydreaming a bit on the motorway and missed the exit for the M56. When I realised I was on the way to Stoke instead of Chester I turned around at the next exit but I got caught in traffic and was 20 mins late…


When I arrived the group were being given the run down on the site by the Site Manager. The Site Manager told only biodegradable waste (not hazardous) is processed at the site, they have consent to operate until 2016/2017 and there are 2 cells left for use.

He told us about wildlife on the site and I was surprised to find out they have Barn Owl runs, 3 kinds of woodpecker, Merlins, Buzzards and seagulls on the site. The seagulls can be a problem apparently and they use Falcons to control numbers. Apparently gas cannons can be effective but they scare the living daylights out of the horses in the adjacent stables when used.

Pest Control: 2 Falcons up near the active site.


First stop on the tour was the weighbridge and the first thing we learned was that it is too small for some of the articulated vehicles! Apparently the drivers have to get out to sign off their loads at the cabin. To fix the problem would cost £20k in all so they have learned to live with it.

We then met Ken in the weighbridge office and were told the ins and outs of the weighing and recording system. The weighbridge is calibrated by an independent external company, trading standards perform annual checks and records are sent from the machine directly through to head office in Doncaster.

Restored Landfill

The restored landfill looks like this:

The landfill here goes to a depth of 6m below ground level and beneath that is 1m of clay. Once the landfill was full it was covered with 2m of pete an a sward was planted along with trees (eg silver birch) to restore the site.

Nowadays landfills are more likely to be restored to open heathland, as is now the preferred policy at this site. This is down to the fact that trees drain more water from the ground and need more maintenance eg. coppicing.

Stroll up the Landfill

Next we headed up to the top of the landfill for the main event. Strangely there were lots of chunks of foam on the road up there… along with lots of mud! As we walked up we could see the seagulls swarming around the waste:

A View From the Top

A CAT ‘crushing machine’ spends all day every day chopping and shredding refuse and pummelling it into the ground at the top of the landfill. Articulated vehicles and other waste trucks come up to the top, dump their load then the CAT smashes it up and pounds it for a bit, then the birds eat some.

The idea behind the chopping and shredding is to make sure the land form is stable and settles evenly. This means they can fit more in the landfill and also means more landfill gas is harvested. They tap the landfill gas and use it to power engines at the site, which are currently running at 5MW.

There are 100 vehicle movements per day at the site and there can be problems because they often finish their rounds and turn up at the same time. The average payload is around 4.5 tonnes and sometimes vehicles need to be towed part way to the top.

Artic being towed to the top (not enough traction on its own)

Composting Facility

Next we were shown the green waste composting facility. The site manager cracked me up when he told us what comes in with the green waste. According to him people think if it gets used in the garden it is green waste. That includes: lawnmowers, garden chairs, tennis balls, golf balls, golf clubs and more.. along with all the organic waste.

The waste is treated for 14 days prior to it arriving at the site and some of the contaminants are removed. When the green waste arrives at the site it is composted in a windrow (large pile of compost) at 80-85C for 3 months. The pile is turned every 3 days at first and a total of 8 times in the 3 months.

The machine above is screening the treated compost. The rejects come out of the front and the screened compost is piled up for selling.

Compost left, rejects right

The site manager told us some local authorities don’t challenge residents about what they are throwing in with their green waste and this leads to increased contamination.

Back to Main Office and Reception

After that it was back to the main office and reception to hand over our PPE and have a quick group photo. I tried to exchange emails with some of the group before everyone left so we can stay in touch and someone suggested we go out to dinner some time, cool!

Any thoughts? Please leave a comment.


Feb 15

HWRCs in North Manchester – a Review

This is a review of HWRCs in North Manchester based on my observations from 6 HWRCs I have visited over the past 2 weeks.

I have written an individual report on each one so please feel free to check out the other posts and comment if interested.

Household Waste Recycling Centre Manchester

(Hurstwood Ct, Bolton)

I visited:

Hurstwood Court, Oldham

Drinkwater Park, Prestwich

Peel Lane, Heywood

Chandos St, Shaw

Arkwright Street, Oldham

Union Rd, Bolton

(… and also Bury and Bolton Town Centres)

The context was that I was taking surveys at the sites.  It has been reported in local press that 4 of the sites I visited are being reviewed with a view to closing them.

Observations and Conclusions

Well Run Sites

My first observation would be that I think Viridor are making a great job of running the HWRCs in North (Greater) Manchester. All the containers, skips and cages were clearly labelled so it was obvious where the public should place/pour/throw their items. The men were all friendly and helpful to the public and the feedback about the site workers from the public was excellent – even though it wasn’t on the survey! The men seemed dilligent in keeping the sites tidy and ensuring things ran smoothly.

Household Waste Recycling Centre Manchester

(Union Rd, Bolton)

Problems with Trade Waste

A big problem at some of the sites was traders using the HWRC to illeagally dump trade waste.

The men I spoke to about it were keen to prevent traders from using the sites. They did have some success in turning traders away however as far as I could tell a significant number still got through and offloaded their trade waste. The men told me traders would use tactics such as bagging all their waste up in black bags to conceal what they were tipping, they would bring a bit of domestic waste eg. toy box and say it was all domestic waste. If the trader was determined to offload their trade waste there was very little the men could do at some sites. At the bigger sites there is more checking on the way into the site as they have greater manpower.

I read yesterday that GMWDA are set to increase the barrier height at the entrance from 6’1″ to 6’6″.  I think this will only worsen the problems of traders visiting the HWRCs.

I think the men on the sites need to be given more powers to stop traders visiting HWRCs. Wheter this be more powers to stop them entering sites, to search vehicles of suspected tradespeople, handing out fines or banning some vehicles from the HWRC altogether. The aim should be to have zero tolerance of tradespeople on the HWRCs. They are depositing business waste and should do so at the correct rate. If something needs to be done about the charging for trade waste to encourage them to use the correct disposal routes then that should be done (carrot and stick).

Household Waste Recycling Centre Oldham

(Arkwright St, Oldham)

Charge for Using HWRCs?

From what I have seen over the past 2 weeks I think people should be charged for using HWRCs. I think they should be charged on what they throw away by material type and weight. I don’t think it is fair that some people who take care not to throw things out will pay as much to their local authority in waste disposal costs as people who give absolutely no regard to what they throw out and the amount of it.

I saw quite a number of people using the HWRC to dump surplus waste which could not fit in their regular bin and it was commented on by both the public and the men on site that a great deal of what is thrown away at the HWRCs probably works eg. electircals, furniture. To throw away items which work to be sent away to India and China to be dissassembled and broken down is insane in my view at a time when we must be aiming for sustainable consumption.  I think a study should be done on this – I imagine the results would be shocking.

Charging for using the HWRC would make people think twice before disposing of items, especially ones which work. Try Freecycle!

Reuse/ Repair Bay

One way of remedying the problem of throwing valuable items away would be to have a reuse/ repair bay. I spoke with one man who told me about a scheme at the HWRC in Scarborough where there is a bay for items which still work or are in need of minor repairs.

I think it is essential we get these at all HWRCs. I think this measure would keep a massive amount out of landfill and save on shipping the electronics etc. half way across the world to be processed.

The items could be sold at charity shops, raising money for charity and meaning the items got a new lease of life, there would be many wins in doing this.

You may have seen one example (from the Union Rd report) where I saw 2 old leather armchairs left at Union Rd. I spoke with the chargehand and me and him both thought they were Chesterfield and looked a bit like this (click the link =>) Here. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Household Waste Recycling Centre Oldham

(Chandos St (Beal Hey), Shaw)

Site Closures – My View

Due to the local press reporting about the possible closure of 4 of the sites we were visiting for the survey, people were generally aware that some of the sites may close later in the year.

People were saying things like don’t close the site etc. as if I have any say in the decision. Thanks people, maybe one day.

My comments would be that these sites all seem to be in North (Greater) Manchester which on the face of it to me does not seem fair on the residents of North Manchester compared to the more affluent South (Greater) Manchester.

I would also comment that the large sites which will take up the extra visitors if the smaller local ones are to close already seemed busy.

Take for example Arkwright Street in Oldham. This site was very busy all day on a Tuesday. It is supposedly already much busier than this at weekends. How will they handle the extra capacity if other small sites nearby close eg. Chandos St?

Final Thoughts

I think the modern HWRC in North Manchester is a well run and efficient facility for handling waste and recycling.

I think there needs to be more deterrents for traders and the public dumping there eg. fines and charges respectively.

There needs to be a greater focus on reuse at the sites.

If you have read all the way to here thanks very much – it would be great to hear any comments you may have.


Feb 15

Chandos Street HWRC, Shaw, pt2

Keith and myself headed up to Chandos Street HWRC for the last push in the surveying schedule yesterday.

The men were friendly to us again as they have been at all the sites.

The rain started when we got there and worsened as the day went on. Needless to say I did not beat my record of 100 surveys in a session.

It was interesting speaking with the men. They told a similar story to the one being relayed by the men at Arkwright street with regard to traders using the site for trade waste.

There was evidence before my very eyes as several people who looked very much like traders – in vans, werring overalls, pencil behind the ear etc. were turning up and offloading items. I can think of one example where a man turned up with a carfull of stuff with his son, wearing overalls, and offloaded. Included in his waste and recycling were 3 boxes for shower units which pointed to the fact that he had recently fitted 3 shower units.

There were plenty more examples. It really annoyed the men on the site. They caught one bloke putting a large bag of plaster into the rubble skip which is a big no no. They stopped him immediately. Again they told me he is a regular visitor and a trader if I remember correctly.

What got the mens goat was the fact that there is very little they can do to stop traders from using the site. They can politely ask them not to use the site and that’s it. The result of this is that traders have little deterrent for using the HWRC for free rather than doing what they should do and paying to offload waste and recycling at a site designated for trade waste.

This system does not work. The men on site need more power to hand out fines and to be able to prevent traders from using the sites. it is a big problem and something needs to be done about it.

Another thing which annoyed them was the fact that some members of the public are rude to them. They said 90-95% are alright but some people take the view that it is their right to dump what they like where they like at the site for example emptying ashtrays and the like on the floor after which the men have to tidy up.

Show these guys more respect please this small minority. They do a good job and have to work 12 hour shifts in summer!

Conclusions and summary of my findings to follow, more than likely tomorrow.

Take care,


Feb 11

HWRC surveys – Bury

Again it was a challenge to get many surveys filled in today.

I tried my luck at Tescos near the centre of Bury and some people who were dropping off their recycling completed surveys.

I spoke with the litter attendant at Tescos who told me they have problems with people fly tipping around the recycling area, especially at weekends.

On the plus side I called in at ASDA and arrived just when they were marking down some items. I managed to get some lovely strawberry yogurts, 2 chocolate tarts, some luxury fishcakes and some cooking backon….. however I forgot to redeem the money for my parking ticket.

Sunday should be better – I am back at Chandos St HWRC. Maybe those expensive chairs will still be there……

Feb 10

Bolton Town Centre

I was asked to survey people in Bolton town centre today.

I focused on some of the recycling areas at Supermarkets where I thought people would be receptive.

It was totally different to getting people to do surveys at the HWRCs because most people were not there to dispose of waste but were going about their business.

I am up in Bury tomorrow so going to have to adopt a different approach there if I am to get any success!

A point of interest – all the facilities at the supermarkets looked old and not well maintained with several bins overflowing eg. plastic bag recycling.

Something really should be done about them.

I think because most people recycle at home now and fewer people use them they may not be as well maintained as they were a few years back but if you’re going to have them there the least you can do is make them look presentable and empty them as frequently as is necessary.


Feb 10

Union Road Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC)

I was up in Bolton today at the Union Rd site.

This is one of the 4 smaller sights I am visiting over last week and this week. The site is very neatly laid out and like the other small sites I have been to there were pleanty of people visiting to drop items off whilst I was there.

I got the opportunity to speak with one of the site managers for the area this morning. He told me that people seemed to be clearing out their garages and lofts etc. a bit early this year and it is not normally so busy until a few weeks later normally.

Speaking with him was very interesting. He told me he doesn’t agree with the way the new larger sites are layed out. One of the reasons is that people can be tempted to dumps more items into general waste if they have to walk back because they have missed the correct container. He tells me this can be a problem when it gets busy. He told me the site he thinks is designed the best out of all the sites he is responsible for is set to close under the current plans. I think it is called the Leicester Street Site.

I have noticed that som eof the sites I have been to have very high recycling rates deiplayed for December whilst som ehave comparatively low. For example the Union Rd site today displayed 84% recycling rate for December whilst I have seen the rate be as low as 43% at one site. I didn’t get a clear answer on that, however he said the rate does fluctuate throughout the year and can go down if people are having a big clearout eg. at Christmas.

Points to note today. I saw a man leave 2 good looking leather chairs. I told him they looked good but he still left them. I spoke to the chargehand because I thought they might be valuable and he shared my opinion that they might be Chesterfield chairs. The leather had perished on 1 arm but other than that they were in reasonable condition. They looked a bit like (click here =>) this: , but more comfortable. In case you didn’t click this chair is valued at £960, and there were 2 of them.

The chargehand told me that for all the things you wanted to take home that were dropped off at the tip you would need a container yourself. Just looking at that catologue now I feel terrible that these chairs have been thrown away to rot on a landfill (too big for the incinerator).

The men used to be able to take things of value which were dropped off but times have changed and they face disciplinary action and possible termination for taking items home. The standard fin efor the public is £1000. Madness.

Once I was done at Union Rd, I went back up to Hurstwood Ct. to make my time up for last week and got a few more surveys done up there. I would be interested to go back there at weekends to see what its like when it is really busy and if there are any problems.

Please feel free to comment.


Feb 08

Beal Hey Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC), Chandos Street in Shaw and Arkwright Street, Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC), Oldham

Yesterday I was up in Shaw near Oldham taking more surveys.

It was freezing and I was counting down the clock from after about the first hour.

The men on site made me feel welcome despite appearing initially reluctant for the surveys to be taken. I think this was down to the fact that the men didn’t know I was coming. When I arrive the chargehand said – ‘what’s the point in doing surveys if they’re going to close the site?’

He was refering to news which had appeared over the weekend including on the BBC website which was that a number of sites have been earmarked for closure pending a review. Coincidentally the 4 listed in the BBC article are 4 out of the 6 which I am visiting last week and this week……

The site at Shaw is quite small but there were certainly many people making use of it despite the conditions.

Some people were asking me about the possible closure and the staff were discussing it with the public which was only natural really.

Since I don’t work for the waste authority I havn’t a clue what their plans are.

One bloke was taking an interest in some of the discarded items. He told me in Scarborough they have a scheme at the HWRC where people can bring items which are still of value eg. they still work or are in need of minor repairs. We took a look at a few bikes and other items like a trolley which still seemed to work OK and may have needed minor repairs.

I have been thinking it is actually madness not to have this type of function at all HWRCs based on what I have seen so far.

I saw the clothes get unloaded for the first time in Shaw. Basically the steel container is lifeted up, the bottom drops out and the crane shakes the container around a bit until all the clothes fall out. I suspect this system is a bit tough on some of the clothes…

There were a few spell where the rain became a bit too heavy to do surveys but I still got a fair few done in Shaw.

Arkwright Street

Household Waste Recycling Centre Manchester

Such was the willingness to complete surveys at Arkwright St today that I managed 3 figures – a cool 100 surveys all told.

This was no doubt aided by the fact that there was a constant stream of punters coming through with their waste and recycling.

A surprising thing I have noticed at the sites, particularly the last 3 sites I have been at is the amount of people who stop by on a regular basis to dump excess waste from their bin at home. Refuse collectors won’t take ‘sidewaste’ or waste which is over and above what can fit in the wheelie bin and it seems quite a number of residents have responded by taking this rubbish to the local HWRC.

In my view this completely defeats the point of residents only being allowed 1 bin for household waste.

This furthers my case for charging at HWRCs as a waste reduction measure.

Arkwright street is a very modern site and with the way waste is so quickly and efficiently processed I can’t help thinking of it a bit now like a slaughterhouse. Whoever has designed the system has got the waste disposal down to a fine art with no thought of the moral implications.

Trade waste – the men asked me if I would mind looking out for potential tradesmen to target for surveying and I was happy to oblige. They said it is a constant battle to keep tradesmen out with them trying to put everything in black bags and believing that if they said they said they had wallpaper they woud be let through before everyone started trying the wallpaper trick and it became obvious that half of Oldham was not continually decorating.

There were a number of vans on their today who were suspected of being trades and I have to agree I thought they were. One bloke was looking very shifty when I asked him for his postcode but some would fill in the survey no bother. I don’t think they are very worried about the consequences of their illeagal actions from what I saw. In fact one man openly told me he had brought a number of bags of glass bottles from his club, he didn’t even seem aware that it was illeagal for him to dump them at Arkwright street.

All this will be going into my conclusions next week.


Feb 04

Drinkwater Park, Bury – Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC)

I have been taking more surveys today up at Drinkwater Park, Bury.

I started at about 10 again. Again I was required to do a site induction but this only took 2mins then I was away surveying people.

It started a little slower than the previous 2 days but soon picked up and all in all I got quite a lot of surveys done (50-60).

I liked the layout at this site and, as happened yesterday some people expressed the fact that they really liked the site.

Household Waste Recycling Centre Bury

The platform is raised so people can throw their items directly into the containers and everything is a short walking distance.

A couple of interesting things happened today. A bloke about 65-70 came and asked if he could buy a gas canister as they cost £30 in the shops however he was told no.

Another bloke who was throwing stuff away had some unused work boots, they looked pretty good from where I was standing. He offered them to one of the men but was told to put them into the clothes and shoes container. There was one lady who was throwing out 3 folders full of artwork. It had been in the house since she moved in 3 years ago and she wanted to dispose of it. Some of it was dated (1974) and looking through there were some really nice scetches, it seemed a shame to throw it out but it all went in the containers with the cardboard and non-recyclables.

I saw 2 Xbox 360s in the small appliances container. I am presuming they were broken but you just don’t know.

The chagehand told me they had the welders in today because someone broke into the site last night to look through the containers. He said it is a regular and ongoing problem.

I carry on at more sites next week where I will come to some conclusions about HWRCs, I am having some ideas.


Feb 03

Peel Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) in Heywood

I was up in Heywood today on my second day of taking surveys for GMWDA.

Despite the dire warnings from the man in Bolton when I arrived today the sky was blue. It was blooming cold, but the sky was blue.

Again with my authoritative looking hard hat I managed to get a near 100% conversion rate turning my HWRC-visiting prospects into survey completers with little fuss.

This HWRC was a totally different set up to the one I visited yesterday. There were just 2 men managing the site and the site was relatively small. Having said that the range of items collected was probably the same as the new Hurstwood Ct site in Bolton where I visited yesterday. There were collection points for: Garden waste, matresses, mixed waste, wood and timber, rubble and hardcore, scrap metal, large electricals, small electricals, clothing, batteries, books, cds, tyres, TVs, flourescent tubes, motor oil – see I was paying more attention today! (better weather conditions).

At this site everything is on the same level. Punters come along and put their unwanted items in the correct pile and when the pile reaches a certain size the site is temporarily closed to the public while the waste eg. green waste, rubble, mixed waste, is scooped up by a large CAT  and dumped in the blue containers at the side of the yard (on the right in the photo). This happened a number of times while I was there.

The site also had to be temporarily closed off to the public for the containers to be taken off site for processing.

Whilst the closures did slow things down a bit for the public, they just waited patiently in their cars until loading was complete.

The set up they have here allowed for much quicker unloading than at Hurstwood Court as all the different areas for recyclables are closer to each other so once the public were in they were out noticably quicker.

I did not get a chance to reflect today about all the rubbish. I can say this though – a lot of good stuff got thrown in again.

The reason I did not get a chance for reflection was because I was kept busy pretty much the whole time I was there with filling out surveys, which I found surprising considering it is a small site. I can say this it is certainly well used from what I could see.

Conclusions – once I have finished my little tour of HWRCs I will let you know.

What is your local HWRC like? Do you like or hate it? If you have any comments please feel free to add them.


Feb 02

Hurstwood Court Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC), Bolton

I was up at Hurstwood Court HWRC in Bolton today to take surveys for GMWDA (Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority).

I was let in by the site staff and given a short induction before being let loose on the unsuspecting public to get them to take surveys in the freezing cold. I don’t know if it was my authorititive looking hardhat or pity, but I was getting pretty much a 100% hit rate right from the off and there was a steady flow of cars coming up the ramp to drop stuff off.

Household Waste Recycling Centre Manchester

Not that I am any expert in HWRCs but this was the biggest and most modern I have been to. It came into operation last September and was built across the road from another tip (er I mean HWRC) called Raikes Lane which is currently being renovated and when it comes back into operations will be used solely for trade waste.

During the dips in traffic I had the opportunity to survey what was in the huge steel containers where people were throwing everything including the kitchen sink – and a bath, settee etc. There were containers for wood, small appliances, large appliances, rubble and hardcore, 2 for general waste and several more. When the area was clear a caterpillar crane would crush the waste down like a giant foot stamping on the waste so more could be thrown in.

Looking in the containers I did reflect on the fact that from what I could tell a lot of the items in there probably worked OK or were in need of simple repairs (not the crushed ones)

For example there were many desktop pc units, bikes, skooters, skis, a sewing machine, settee and countless electrical items.

I think people will have bought superior and more modern replacements for a lot of this stuff.

I also reflected on the fact that I thought people should be charged for throwing this stuff away. At the minute people can throw away however much they like at the HWRC and don’t have to pay anything to do so so long as its not commercial waste. To me this is unfair as the costs for recycling and disposal are shared equally between these people and with more careful people who use freecycle and throw less away

I am going to try to dig around and find out how much waste and recyclables passes through this site if possible.

After about 4 hours the freezing cold conditions changed – they got worse. It started sleet/ raining. People were seeming more unwilling to answer the survey so I retired to the cabin and decided to call it a day shortly after that.

Hopefully the conditions will be better tomorrow and allow me to make up my hours. As I was leaving one of the men told me conditions are set to worsen tomorrow..

Edit – I did make up the time – on the last day of surveying!

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