Spring is in the air and with it the inevitable spring clean and de-clutter looms large.
For those of us making the weekend pilgrimage to the tip it’s good to know that Hampshire has become a nationalflagship for recycling.
Since 2004 the county council has diverted a greater proportion of household waste from landfill than any other county. In 2012–2013 Hampshire handled almost 600,000 tonnes of waste, of which only six per cent went into holes in the ground.
A large part of this success is down to the council’s innovative approach to waste management and its renewal of current facilities to make them even easier for the public to use.
Last year, the council opened a new site in Waterlooville, operated by Hopkins Recycling in the Wellington Park housing development next to Hambledon Road. The new site recycled more than 83 per cent of all the waste it handled last year and replaced the outdated smaller facility in the Wellington Retail Park.
Waterlooville Home Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) manager Steve Jewell (pictured above, inset) has been working in recycling for seven years and can testify to how popular the new centre is with the community.
‘We average 500 to 600 visitors at weekends and about 300 on weekdays,’ says Steve. ‘It’s a heavily-used site.’
The old site was a single level site which required visitors to trek up flights of stairs to be able to place items in the bins. The new HWRC is a split level site which means people no longer need to use the stairs and can park at the same level as the top of the bins.
‘Step up sites are awful,’ says Steve. ‘The new site is easier to use and there are no lorries in the way because they all come in on the lower level. It was hard work in the old single level sites. This is much easier for us and the customers and it’s a lot safer as well.’
The split level layout allows bins to be emptied without having to close the centre which avoids the long queues that used to plague the old Waterlooville site when bins were emptied.
Along with the new layout has come a renewed focus on customer service.
‘It’s all about customer care on this site. It makes people happier and feel more welcome.’
Assistant manager Gary Richards agrees: ‘You get some people who get impatient and others that don’t want a hand but we are here to help out and tell people where things should go,’ says Gary.
‘Some people get out of the car with bags of garden waste, shake it and their car keys, phone or rings fall into the bin. Once we have phoned head office, we go in and hope to find them. One guy dropped his BMW keys and I had to go from one end of the bin to the other to find them!’
Going the extra mile has yielded results for the team who have won Site of the Year awards three times in the last five years for their work at the Waterlooville sites.
The HWRC recycles most non-hazardous waste including car batteries, oil, paint and textiles but many people visit the centre to take things home rather than throw them away.
‘People chuck brand new items away,’ says Steve. ‘But it’s good for people who don’t have anything.’
Gary agrees: ‘People who haven’t got a lot come in for things to start up their first home,’ he says.
Items that can still be used are sold at the on-site shop where visitors can browse a range of goods such as golf clubs, framed pictures, furniture and household ornaments. The proceeds from sales at the shop are reinvested at the site enabling Hopkins Recycling to hire new staff and improve facilities.
One of the major improvements for staff is the use of a 360 compactor, a large digger used to compress rubbish in the bins before it is removed from the centre.
‘We use the compactor three times on each bin before we ship them out,’ says Gary. ‘Before we had the 360 compactor we had to tread all the rubbish down by foot. It was a lot of work.’
As well as the improvements to help the site run more efficiently for the public, Kevin Hopkins, the managing director of Hopkins, sees the centre as a resource for the local community.
‘We do schools trips on the site now,’ says Kevin ‘It’s all about trying to be part of the community. It makes a difference, the children learn about recycling in school and then educate the parents. The more we can re-use the less goes to landfill.’
And it seems this policy of waste not, want not starts close to home as Kevin points to a table in the staff quarters at the site.
‘We are re-using and will get a couple more years out of this table and these chairs. The public are good and ask if we want something before they throw it away. People are more into recycling – they think of this as their local recycling centre and the old Stig of the Dump attitude has gone.’
Kevin knows this engagement with people using the site is vital for Hampshire’s continued recycling success.
‘The public are very important to the site. They push us forward by their attitude to recycling. They are more interested now than ever and that’s vital because we need them to work with us.’