We'll take your waste- from Antarctica!
RECYCLING is big business these days, and waste disposal companies are winning bigger and bigger contracts. But the latest deal struck by a firm on the Suffolk border is particularly unusual.
RECYCLING is big business these days, and waste disposal companies are winning bigger and bigger contracts. But the latest deal struck by a firm on the Suffolk border is particularly unusual, as ADAM AIKEN reports.
ITS containers and lorries are familiar sights in East Anglia - but now a Thetford recycling firm is collecting waste from a little further afield. Pearsons has just taken its first shipment - literally - of rubbish from the Antarctic, having been awarded a contract to recycle waste carried about 10,000 miles from British Antarctic Survey stations.
After being carried from the Antarctic in containers on board the research ship Ernest Shackleton, three truckloads of material - including paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminium, steel, glass, fabric, fluorescent tubes and electrical goods - were picked up at Grimsby docks by Pearsons and brought to Thetford.
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“We pride ourselves on being able to handle just about anything, but recycling waste from Antarctica is unusual, even for us,” said Jo Pearson, managing director of Pearsons. “But although it's certainly our most unusual contract, it makes sense because the boats are coming back anyway, and the containerised waste is easy for us to deal with.”
Rod Downie, environmental manager at the BAS, said: “We were impressed with Pearsons because they really engaged with us and seemed genuinely interested in what we are doing in the Antarctic.
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“We have a legal requirement to recycle and we are committed to it, but the very nature of our work means that our people are naturally into this kind of thing, so it has been very easy to implement.”
Waste from the stations that cannot be recycled is offloaded in the Falkland Islands en route to the UK. Apart from sewage, everything else is brought back to Britain.
“We have made checks, and bringing the containers back on the ship does not require more fuel, so there is no cost to the environment,” said Mr Downie.
BAS is the UK's national Antarctic operator, running nine research programmes and operating five research stations, two research ships and five aircraft in and around Antarctica. The survey's stations include Halley, Rothera and Signy in the Antarctic, and Bird Island and King Edward Point on South Georgia.
During the current Antarctic winter, the survey has about 50 staff stationed at four of the bases (Signy is only manned during the summer). Its work includes studying the effect of climate change both today and in years gone by.
Back in Norfolk, Pearsons employs 90 people and has annual sales of more than £8m, providing skip and recycling services to businesses, farms and homes across East Anglia, as well as in the Antarctic.
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