City council to buy Shanks recycling plant for £4.6m

COUNCIL bosses will take an ailing Glasgow recycling plant into public ownership.

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Shanks' facility at Blochairn, which opened in 2011, is state-of-the-art but part of a loss-making division   Picture: Nick Ponty
Shanks' facility at Blochairn, which opened in 2011, is state-of-the-art but part of a loss-making division Picture: Nick Ponty

The city has announced it will buy a facility opened three years ago by waste giant Shanks in Blochairn for £4.6million.

The investment, officials hope, will help to boost its traditionally low levels of recycling and cut how much rubbish it dumps in landfill.

Shanks opened its state-of-the-art materials reclamation facility near Blochairn Markets two years ago as it invested heavily in recycling.

However, the company has now pulled out of the business after its solid waste division lost money.

Council officials say they have a sound business case for keeping the facility open - not least because they had been planning to build one of their own.

An official said: "A business case concluded that the preferred option was to acquire the Blochairn Road site, which would facilitate the introduction of a commercial waste recycling service."

Glasgow has recently improved its recycling rate to around a third of what we put in our bins. That represents a significant improvement but is poor by national standards.

A council recycling depot in Polmadie closed in the summer as the local authority cleared its site for a new energy-from-waste plant to handle much of its rubbish. Glasgow now sends recyclable waste for sorting to a commercial operator.

The Shanks facility is more modern than the Polmadie one and will both sort through dry recyclables for the council and bid for commercial work, including from neighbouring local authorities.

Shanks is understood to have invested £20m in Blochairn and another site in Cumbernauld, both of which opened in 2011.

Officials carried out processing trials at the Shanks plant to make sure it could sort mixed rubbish - "commingled" as waste engineers call it - in to valuable goods such as glass and metal.

The council had considered building a new recycling plant at Easter Queenslie, where it has a waste sorting depot. This would have cost more than buying the Shanks site.

Glasgow is in the process of revolutionising how it handles city waste. Last week it lost a bid to keep its controversial Cathkin landfill open.

It now sends city rubbish to a commercial tip near Airdrie but will start to dispose of much of the roughly 350,000 tonnes of household rubbish it collects at the Polmadie energy-from-waste plant when in it opens in 2016.

That facility, described as an incinerator by critics, will also have recycling capacity.

The purchase of the Blochairn facility, to be paid for from within existing budgets, will save 28 jobs. The deal will be completed by the spring.

Shanks is selling much of the rest of its solid waste business in Scotland to rival firm Biffa.


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