Reinventing Recycling – the Strahans Road Waste Facility, Strabane

Photo credit: Flying Media

In 2006, Strabane council began to plan a change for the town’s civic amenity and recycling services. Its existing three facilities were separate and obsolete, no longer fit for purpose. The planning culminated in a new £12m waste handling centre, opened in 2015, that is providing the district’s residents with a new state-of-the-art facility to serve the community for many years to come. The centre will revolutionise how waste is managed and dramatically reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill. Currently, recycling efficiency stands at 86%; at the former sites, rates were around 55-65%. 

The new waste management regime operates under the roof of the Strahans Road waste transfer and recycling facility. All the waste arriving on site, some 20,000 tonnes a year, is separated at source. Council refuse collection vehicles deposit waste in the centre, into the allocated bays for each specific type of recyclable material. It is then compacted for removal at a ratio of 7:1 to maximise transporting efficiencies and reduce the plant’s carbon emissions. The operation is dynamic, with flexibility in place to maintain the optimum efficiency of the recycling flow.  

Residents are encouraged to use this waste facility on a ‘bring’ basis. The use of colourful and clear signage displayed around the site directs users to the correct location to dispose of everything from carpets and kitchen units to electrical goods and waste oil, seeking to avoid contamination by ensuring that the material is properly segregated.  

The centre has incorporated a number of sustainability features. The council has installed biomass boilers and solar panels, with the aim of being self-sufficient in electricity and heat generation. Overall, the site has identified savings in fuel bills of around £12,000 per year.

A rainwater harvesting system collects water for use in wash bays to clean vehicles and on-site amenities. Reed bed technology is deployed for the treatment of dirty water from the site, without the need to use any polluting chemicals. The water used in this purification process goes through three stages of filtration to ensure it is uncontaminated.

The centre has already won various awards for its sustainability and waste recycling, achieving a Council Award for Excellence in Waste Management and most recently securing a 2015 Sustainable Ireland Award.

Deborah Madden

For more information, click here to contact Derry City and Strabane District Council.