SUEZ site-seeing | Part 18 | Devon County Council Household Waste Recycling Centre in Pinbrook Road, Exeter

1st October 2018 Posted by

Post by Dr Adam Read.

Split tier site, concrete bays and clear signposting at Pinhook HWRC

Split tier site, concrete bays and clear signposting at Pinhook HWRC

SUEZ has operated Pinbrook Road Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) for five years and the contract was renewed in April 2017. We operate 18 HWRCs on behalf of Devon County Council managing 90,000 tonnes of waste per year – and approximately 80% of that waste is recyclables. In addition to the HWRC’s, we operate two transfer stations and run some bulking sites (like the one in East Devon, next door to our mini MRF in Greendale).

There are approximately 1.7 million visits to Pinbrook Road a year and to keep pace with growing demand associated with ongoing housing developments across the county a number of the HWRCs have been upgraded – including this site in Pinhoe, Exeter.

This site opened in February 2017 and cleans and bulks around 10,000 tonnes of card and plastic per year, preparing for onward delivery to end markets.

The Pinbrook Road HWRC was awarded the ‘Civic Amenity Site of the Year’ award in 2012 and was shortlisted for the HWRC site award for design at the National Recycling Awards in 2018. Seventeen of the sites have reuse shops, with a range of facilities, with meet and greet employees and ability to accept payment for items etc. which are proving very popular.

Even on a rainy day, – the Pinbrook Road site reuse shop averages 200 transactions every day. This HWRC site managed 3,000 tonnes in the first year of operation, and three years on it is now handling 8,000 tonnes per year, of which 80% has been diverted from landfill.

The view from the education room looking back over the HWRC site

The view from the education room looking back over the HWRC site

This is the new standard for Devon HWRCs, demonstrating all the aspects of best practice that Devon County Council and SUEZ want to see on these sites. Split level sites for improved health and safety and customer experience; a one-way traffic management system; a large footprint allowing users to avoid queuing and to allow containers to have sensible access by both customers and our operational vehicles; large, clear and bright signage making it easier to know where to stop for the materials you have brought on site; meet and greet teams at the entrance to help direct you to the most appropriate bays and to improve customer engagement, and of course the large reuse area.

Plenty of space, one way traffic management and clear signage at HWRC

Plenty of space, one way traffic management and clear signage at HWRC

The Pinbrook Road site also has an education centre, used by both Devon County Council and by SUEZ to host meetings, facilitate workshops, and to engage with local schools, which is one of the real bonuses of a new build like this one – very few HWRC sites anywhere else in the UK have a proper educational centre on site!

On reflection, the site was very clean, the employees were very engaged helping residents to find the right bay and assisting them with heavy items etc. and the design worked perfectly.

The site, and the network of sites is a reflection of the long-standing and good working partnership between SUEZ and Devon County Council, and we expect this to continue to flourish over the next five years as we look to maximise the recycling and diversion from these sites, and seek to improve the layout and operation of the entire network. SUEZ has already taken aspects of the Pinbrook Road site design and operation and are sharing this with our clients throughout the UK, most notably in Cornwall where a number of sites are under redevelopment or are due an upgrade in the near future.

Another excellent site, doing fantastic front-line work with the residents of Devon, well done everyone!

Some reflections on my recent visits in Devon

It had been a long day, with plenty of distance covered in less than ideal conditions, but I was heartened by the commitment shown by the teams at all the sites I visited. They really do enjoy working for SUEZ, making a difference, and working in partnership with our clients. An excellent effort from everyone!

On the plastics and metals automated segregation line at the MRF

On the plastics and metals automated segregation line at the MRF

I was fully inducted at every site, a requirement for any visitors, and was thoroughly briefed about risks, hazards and the rules of the site. No less should be expected, and given the high injury rate associated with waste management sites we must strive to improve our working practices and our on-site inductions. So a big thank you goes out to my hosts and the tour guides, you made me feel safe and enlightened, explaining the nuances of each facility, how they worked, the issues, the opportunities and the concerns in great detail!

As always it was rewarding to see that the management systems on all the sites were consistent, but not restrictive, and they have been localised to suit each site. Quality is at the heart of the SUEZ way of working, and these sites, the employees, and the systems are a clear indicator of that quality.

I hope my visit wasn’t too distracting, and it was good to meet clients on both sites, to share experiences and to understand what is going well and what we are working together on to improve. Much will change in the sector over the next 12 months, with a new English Resources & Waste Strategy due out in October 2018, but one thing won’t change and that is the critical role of front-line employees, sites and services, delivering high quality solutions for residents. In Devon, I felt fully confident that we will continue to deliver the highest quality services and push recycling rates up even higher through our effective partnership working.

So that’s all for now, but next up are trips to see our new materials recycling facility (MRF) and refuse derived fuel (RDF) facilities in Aberdeen, our new collection services in Doncaster, and our new energy-from-waste (EfW) facility in Wilton.

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