A Cumbrian waste management company is looking into innovative ways to recycle as its business continues to grow.

  North West Recycling began life as Brampton Skip Hire in 1995 when founder Rick Allan started a small skip hire business from his family farm near Brampton. Like any skip hire or waste collection operation, they needed to dispose of the waste that came back when the skips and waste bins were returned.    


Rather than simply sending the waste to landfill, Rick and his growing team gradually developed a number of different lines to sort and recycle the materials.   Today it has grown to be the largest private waste management company in Cumbria, with 25 skip hire wagons, over 2000 skips deployed across the region at any one time and 112 employees based on a 30-acre site at the Kingmoor Park Enterprise Zone.    


North West Recycling processed 148,000 tonnes of waste in the last year alone, diverting 94 per cent of the waste from landfill.    


Their site near Rockcliffe is used for waste treatment by several local authorities, including Dumfries and Galloway Council, as well as local businesses such as Story Homes and Carlisle Brass. It also partners with waste management company Biffa to collect and dispose of waste from businesses.   


“Everyone talks about the circular economy,” says Rick, managing director.  “Our aim is to truly make it happen. We have an end to end capability unique to the region and are continually looking for new forms of green entrepreneurship and new waste processing technologies.”   


North West Recycling’s plant is able to recycle just over 50 per cent of the waste it receives. Non-recyclable waste is turned into highly thermally efficient fuel, known as Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF). This SRF is made into pellets and can be burned in kilns to create energy but with only 11 per cent of the carbon emissions associated with coal.   


The business is exploring the potential for a gasification plant, which heats waste to break it down into a gas named syngas, which can be used for electricity generation or refined into other chemicals and fuels.   


A recent rebrand undertaken by Cumbria-based marketing agency, Ireland Consulting, was accompanied by the development of a new ecommerce website. Account customers can also access their own personalised waste usage dashboard so that they can monitor and report on how their waste is used and ensure they are able meet environmental compliance legislation.   


Rick says this ability is increasingly important to businesses that need to demonstrate their sustainable credentials to their customers.    "Sadly, most of the waste we produce, including within Cumbria, still goes to landfill, largely due to tipping costs. At North West Recycling, with the support of our team and our customers, we are trying to change that,” he says.   


North West Recycling is still a true family business with Rick and Emma working alongside brother-in-law Mike Simpson, who is one of the supervisors, niece Evie, who works in customer service, and daughter Jess, who also works in customer service during the holidays.   


Rick says the focus for the future is to explore waste process innovation providing a more responsible way for Cumbria to manage waste. “There are many facets to this; digital transformation, a more sustainable way to manage waste and a green business success story for the region,” says Rick.