Contamination of brown bin waste serious problem for recycling firm

Contamination of brown bin waste serious problem for recycling firm

The owner of the only facility in the midlands that organically recycles all biodegradable waste is highlighting the importance of properly using brown bins.

Michael Dolan, owner of Johnstown Recycling, Slanemore, has been operating a composting facility for 10 years.

The main part of the business is to process food waste taken from brown bins from commercial businesses and waste collectors and to put it through a process that turns it into nutrient-rich compost.

Mr Dolan said that contamination rates were the biggest problem in his business.

“We need to get the message out to businesses and the general public that brown bins are for food waste and green waste and that plastic bags can never be used – unless the bags are certified compostable.

“People don’t realise the extra screening and processes that have to take place to try to take the plastic out – it is very labour intensive and costly.

“This is something that can be eradicated with the help of our customers and the public.”

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Michael Dolan with Benny and mounds of compost behind.

Mr Dolan welcomed the council’s brown bin awareness promotion that is currently running in conjunction with the waste collectors operating in the county.

‘Benny the Brown Bin’ can be used for the collection of food waste, whether raw or cooked, including meat, poultry, dairy, fish and bones.

The brown bin can be lined with paper or by using a compostable bag with the EN 13432/seedling logo.

However, the council has stressed the importance of leaving the brown bin out for collection on a fortnightly basis. This prevents odours and leakage as compostable bags will start to decompose as soon as they are filled and placed inside the bin.

Compost product

At the Slanemore facility, after the food waste goes through the system, it results in quality compost that can be combined into existing soil or used as a top-dressing for trees, shrubs, lawns and vegetables.

Mr Dolan explained: “The compost has the natural, garden-feeding nutrients to make the best of your garden and vegetables. It can also be used as a lawn dressing, in flowerbeds and for growing vegetables. We supply our topsoil and compost to households, landscapers and garden centres.”

Ruth Maxwell of the council’s environment department said that waste collectors providing kerbside waste collections in areas of over 500 people are legally obliged to provide a brown bin service and householders in those areas are legally obliged to segregate their food waste from other waste.

She said that segregation means food waste is removed from landfills (which is law under EU landfill directives) and that is important as food waste releases methane gas into the air and that contributes to global warming.

Householders are advised to contact their waste collectors and request their brown bins if they are in areas of over 500 people, such as Mullingar, Kinnegad, Rochfortbridge, Killucan Rathwire, Kilbeggan, Delvin, Clonmellon, Castlepollard, Athlone, Moate.

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