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Alan Whitehead MP explores how West Sussex supports the circular economy

28th November 2016

Last week Dr. Alan Whitehead, Member of Parliament for Southampton Test, visited the cutting-edge Ford Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in West Sussex to explore how kerbside recycling is processed into high-quality materials to be made into tomorrow’s new products.

The Materials Recycling Facility at Ford processes the recycling collected from kerbsides across West Sussex and once this material arrives all mixed together cutting-edge optical and mechanical sorters separate different types of paper, plastic, metal cans and glass into high-quality materials that are suitable to be used in the manufacturing sector. Alan has been a strong advocate of using resources more wisely for a number of years and is particularly interested in maximising the amount of recycled material that can be used in making new products and packaging to reduce our reliance on virgin resources.

During his visit Alan also learnt about the challenges facing recycling plants. Whilst the contamination rates in West Sussex are some of the lowest in the UK, every day the team at Ford are still faced with contamination within the recycling including pizza crusts, food waste and nappies. Whilst this material can be picked out of the clean and dry recycling it often makes the surrounding paper dirty and unusable. Viridor recently commissioned a piece a national research looking at the public perceptions of recycling and found that over 60% of those asked were frustrated about what things they can actually recycle and even more (66%) wanted more educational material about how to recycle the right things. Viridor helps to ‘lift the lid on what happens to waste’ by welcoming school and community groups to the MRF to learn about what happens after recycling is collected.

Alan Whitehead, Member of Parliament for Southampton Test said of the visit: “I was fascinated to be able to see the Ford Materials Recycling Facility first-hand. Viridor has worked in partnership with West Sussex County Council and the District and Borough collection authorities in West Sussex for a number of years and continues to be a leading example of how Local Authorities can maximise their recycling and put unwanted materials back to good use. I was particularly interested in seeing high-quality recyclate ready to be sent for re-manufacture.”

Mike Stafford, Regional Manager for Viridor added: “It is really important to show people what we do at Ford MRF because we are working around the clock and often behind the scenes. But once residents put their recycling on the kerbside to be collected we step into action. The team at Ford work to sort and separate mixed recycling into high quality materials to be used again however residents play the most important role. Putting the right stuff in the right bin helps to ensure that recycling delivered to Ford MRF is clean, dry and loose and we are able to sort it without having to remove contaminating materials like food waste and nappies.”

For more information about how schools and community groups can visit the MRF to learn about the story of recycling please email us.

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