When you visit your local Recycling Centre dropping off your unwanted household items, like me you probably drive in, chuck your rubbish and go!… But can you really appreciate what it takes to manage your local recycling facility?
Well, here’s an opportunity for you to take a look; Alan Brown, is a supervisor at the Viridor Recycling Centre off Raikes Lane in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Alan is 55, lives in Bolton with his wife and they have five grown up children. Alan has worked for Viridor since the late nineties and currently is a supervisor at the Raikes Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre.
The Raikes Lane Recycling Centre houses 15 skips that are filled with different items such as cardboard, garden waste and non-recyclable waste. It’s Alan’s job to ensure that the recycling centre runs smoothly and he works a shift pattern of 4 days in work and 4 days off work, with 12-hour days when he is in work. Each day he is supported by a team of 3 site operatives. The site constantly receives recyclable and non-recyclable waste such as wood, green waste, rubble, batteries, tyres, clothes, oil, cooking oil, small and large electrical items, TV’s, fridges, charity items such as: CD’s, furniture, books, shoes, clothes and all have to be either recycled, donated or burned. Alan keeps a check on all vehicles entering the site, what they are disposing of, keeping in touch with his team by radio, as he can’t always see them around the large site. It’s very important for him to keep the communication channels open with his team at all times so he is prepared for any eventualities. This requires Alan and his team to be vigilant at all times as they have to keep an eye out across the site to watch out for vehicles repeatedly visiting to ensure that they are only disposing of household waste. They regularly check the cameras to monitor repeat car registrations and speak to anyone that is thought to be to disposing of trade waste.
The site is for household waste only and part of Alan’s job is to explain to trade or commercial people why they can’t access the site, and what waste disposal facilities are available to them.
Alan Brown at the Raikes Lane Recycling Facility
Alan indeed has many hats! Health and Safety on site is one of his key priorities which means ensuring staff and site visitors follow the correct procedures of which there are many. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, high visibility vests and safety foot wear is essential at all times. In addition Alan ensures that all of the different material types are handled safely to minimise the risk of windblown litter, fire or spillages.
The control of hazardous waste is another key challenge for Alan. He needs to quickly identify if customers are carrying asbestos, plasterboard, car batteries, chemicals, paint and weed killer, so they can be directed to the right container. These items are then recorded using the Risk Assessment Management System (RAMs) to comply with strict COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) waste legislation and regulations.
Alan also manages the site evacuation procedures if it was necessary and is fully trained in first aid, in case a member of staff or the public became ill on site.
Alan’s job is full of variety, he needs to focus on serious matters such as the security and health and safety matters on site but also knows too well that you have to have a sense of humour in any job, especially this one for example;
Alan said “I remember when one member of the public tried to climb into one of the metal clothes banks to try to retrieve clothes rather than donate them. The man had to remove all of his own clothes so that he could slip through the small opening and he actually got stuck inside the container! I had to call the Fire Service to rescue the man from the metal clothes bin and they managed to retrieve him naked and shaken but thankfully intact. Every day is different in this job and you need to have a good sense of humour as well as knowing all of the health & safety regulations”.
The site gets really busy during Monday to Friday and numbers can reach up to 900 vehicles per day. Weekends are even busier with up to 1500 vehicles passing through the site on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.
Alan on site at the Raikes Lane Household Recycling Facility
The recycling industry has seen some big changes over recent years as the UK strives maximise recycling, recovery and re-use.
Alan say’s “Recycling is a massive industry, we are trying to recycle more and more items that can be invested back into valuable resources such as metal and plastic and another good example is the fact that Greater Manchester transform food and garden waste in to ‘Revive’ quality compost and sell it back to the public at a low cost”.
During his time with the company Alan has worked at many sites including Bredbury, Rose Hill, Over Hulton, Adswood and Radcliffe to name a few. He has seen some unusual items being dropped off at the tip such as a large wooden coffin, which was fortunately empty!
Alan concluded to say “I really enjoy my job working at the Bolton facility which has certainly presented me with some new challenges. I could never get bored in this job, I like the responsibility and the variety and I like working outside and meeting lots of different people”.
The New Year brings some new challenges for Alan, as he will soon be moving to another site to work at Radcliffe HWRC in the same role.
So the next time you visit the tip you will have more of an insight into how much is involved in the day-to-day running of your local recycling facility. For more information about your recycling visit www.recycleforgreatermanchester.com