Going Into Battle Against The Waste Challenge In The Eco Way

28 November 2020
We’ve been here for nearly 30 years and recycling and recovery is at the heart of what we do. Read about how we’re leading the fight on climate change.

Twenty-five years ago, the company’s founder and Managing Director, Trelawney Dampney, had the vision to establish the company after learning how other European countries were collecting garden waste and turning it into compost. Being from a farming background, this made a lot of sense.

Recycling is at the heart of what we do, and the company has since grown to employ 45 people operating from three sites across Dorset, processing local, natural organic waste each year which is put back to good use as compost, soil improver, fertiliser, landscaping products, biofuels and energy.

Over the last 25 years, our business has prevented 1.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions by diverting organic waste from landfill – our main site is powered by renewable energy and our developments generate enough renewable energy to power 22,000 homes. In the last decade alone, we have invested over £10 million in local sustainable solutions.

But we want to do even more. We solve environmental challenges, and we want to help solve the current waste challenge and tackle the climate emergency by continuing to invest in local, technological solutions.

The waste challenge

Around half of waste is recycled in the UK – in the BCP Council area and across Dorset, around 60% of household waste is recycled. We want to see as much waste as possible recycled locally and will continue to strive to maximise the potential of waste as a resource.

The good news is that of the 1.6 million tonnes of waste produced by residents and businesses across Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch every year, over 250,000 tonnes of local organic waste is turned into soil improver, landscaping and horticultural products and renewable energy by Eco.

However, a significant amount (around 320,000 tonnes) is trucked out of the local area for disposal. This adds to the environmental impact of waste, transported long distances by HGVs, and some of this waste ends up in landfill. For example, 72,000 tonnes of household waste collected by BCP and Dorset councils still goes to landfill.

When decomposing, this rubbish produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas and major contributing factor in the climate emergency highlighted recently by our government and local councils.

Over recent decades, the drive for greater convenience has led to an increase in the amount of waste that we all produce, at home, work, school or on the go. At the same time, whilst more homes have been built and villages, towns and cities are growing, landfill sites have been filling up and closing in response to tightened environmental regulations.

We believe much more can be done to reduce waste, reuse and recycle more – and recover value from what’s left over.

The climate emergency

In line with many Governments and other local authorities around the world, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Council declared a ‘climate emergency’ with 153 measures they will take to reduce the impact of climate change. Measures include tackling waste by reducing items such as single use plastics, increasing recycling and avoiding landfill. Dorset Council has also followed suit.

Reducing CO2 emissions is a key driver of the Government’s commitment for the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This huge task will require action across every aspect of society, from the way we travel to what we eat and how we heat and power buildings.

At Eco, we are already playing a part in this challenge by reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill, reducing carbon emissions, replacing fertilisers which use finite, non-renewable resources with organic compost and soil improvers, and producing renewable energy from society’s waste.

Additionally, we have invested over £100,000 in improving the local ecology around our Eco Park with measures including maintaining and enhancing the value of the site for roosting bats and nesting birds, developing and maintaining hedgerow and ground flora species diversity and improving grassland and heathland habitats.

But we can all do much more!

Our solution

Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Councils have jointly produced a local waste plan, which estimates that the local area will require approximately 232,000 tonnes per year of additional processing capacity for waste left over after recycling. The councils’ strong preference is to recover energy from this leftover waste ‘wherever practicable’, and to minimise the use of landfill.

The Plan outlines the technologies and some of the potential sites that will be required to process, treat or dispose of all waste generated by the many local businesses and households. Eco’s Parley site is included in this plan.

We are proposing a facility that will manage an additional 60,000 tonnes of residual waste, with up to 20% extracted for recycling before the remaining 50,000 tonnes are processed on site to recover low carbon energy in the form of renewable electricity. This means even less waste will travel out of the county and less methane will be produced by local waste.

Located at our Eco Park near Bournemouth Airport, the proposed site for the ERF is identified in the local authority waste plan and already has planning permission for a biofuel facility – we are proposing a small increase in size, a change to the fuel it will use and an increase in clean energy production.

At just 60,000 tonnes, the facility will provide less than half of the tonnage capacity suggested in Eco’s site allocation in the local councils’ waste Plan, and around a quarter of the residual waste that the waste Plan has identified a need for new facilities to treat.

We believe much more can be done to reduce waste and recycle even more, and our plans will include a visitor centre and education programme to support the local councils’ efforts to encourage everyone to reduce their waste, reuse and recycle more.

Next steps

Our plans are at an early stage, and we are keen to hear the views of local residents, community organisations and businesses as we prepare to submit a planning application. We will consult on a draft application in the autumn and aim to submit a full planning application before the end of the year.

For more information please e-mail Eco at [email protected] or telephone us on 01202 593601.