Recycling at historical Yorkshire site Fountains Abbey has never been easier

Written by: Jonathan Oldfield | Published:
Fountains Abbey in north Yorkshire

Recycling is certainly a hot topic in 2019.

But, although the demand for companies to emphasise a greater stance on ‘being green’ has increased, there is always more that can be done in the fight to protect our planet for future generations.

There’s never been a time when recycling has hit the headlines as much as it does at present. And, thanks to the constant media attention on the topic, the general public are well aware that huge change is needed – and quickly – to ensure the survival of oceans, animals, and ultimately the human race.

Over the years Riverside has helped a range of businesses in their fight to manage waste. Balers – of all shapes and sizes – have been provided throughout the UK and beyond to deal with an array of materials. But the UK tourism sector (the majority of which does a roaring trade whatever the weather) could go further to help the UK hit its recycling targets while teaching visitors to follow suit.

Situated in north Yorkshire, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is a National Trust property. It has more than 800 acres of land to explore – including a Cistercian mill, an Elizabethan hall and a medieval deer park – and the busy estate sees more than 400,000 visitors pass through its gates annually.

The World Heritage site has a keen interest in conservation work. Many National Trust projects take place simultaneously across the UK, which helps preserve some of the nation’s most treasured beauty spots. In 2010 the baseline of energy consumption across all National Trust properties was assessed. Targets were then set for each individual site, to reduce usage by 2020.

In line with its targets to improve efficiencies the site has also taken steps to remove any ageing equipment on its grounds. This progressive environmental mindset led the team to look at all areas ripe for improvement, one of which was the baling technology.

Fountains Abbey was no stranger to the importance of baling, but was well aware that the time had come to upgrade its waste machinery. Riverside installed a RWM 75 machine at the estate to handle excess cardboard and facilitate easy recycling.

Housing three food outlets and a large visitor centre containing a shop and a restaurant the busy estate processes large volumes of this material, and during high season and school holidays, now produces 10 bales of cardboard per week, each weighing around 75kg.

The benefits of the baler include a tidier site, better health and safety standards, reduced risk of fire, and ease of waste collection for recycling by contractor Biffa.

However, every single National Trust property is different and has its own problems to overcome. So with every successful change more must still be done each day to solve other issues.

Baling is something that the site now has covered, and it certainly helps the team to hit their recycling targets. In addition, the various bins available help visitors to sort their waste correctly, thus educating others on the need to recycle.

But problems do still arise. As the property is a World Heritage site this restricts where bins can be situated. In certain areas of the grounds, for example, to remain sympathetic to the landscape space only allows for general waste bins – something that cannot be altered but makes recycling more difficult.

As accustomed to household recycling as visitors may be they – with differing postcodes and council rules – may have entered a county where they know nothing of ‘how things are done’ in that region.

In addition, confusion over plastic waste is a problem. It’s far from straightforward, and when faced with various items of packaging many visitors are not certain as to what they can place in plastic bins – something that needs addressing in the UK as a whole.

On the positive side, the fact that every single person is now aware they have to make an individual effort to have an impact on the country’s recycling rates is glaringly obvious. National Trust members, and regular visitors from the local area, all appreciate the actions taken by the team at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal to preserve the environment, and the efforts of those visiting the site are great to see.

The staff – currently a core of 100, plus 400 volunteers, who help to keep the World Heritage site ticking over – also all undergo an induction on starting employment, which includes a discussion on the environment and energy consumption.

When it comes to everyone coming together to hit their individual targets and help win the war on pollution it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s evident that Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is a front runner and more attractions should follow suit.

Jonathan Oldfield is MD of Riverside Waste Machinery

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