Reduce, reuse, recycle, RiverRidge!

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NR speaks to Alan Sproule, strategic development manager of RiverRidge on what 2018 holds for NI’s largest independent waste management company.

Acquired in 2011, RiverRidge has grown radically over the last six years, from operating skip hire and landfill services, to employing 280 staff and spearheading the transformation of the waste sector in Northern Ireland through the use of innovation and a dedicated workforce.

RiverRidge has a strong, determined vision that is based on landfill diversion and providing customers with a sustainable and financially attractive environmental solution. The company’s brand tagline ‘Rethinking Resources’ is a core aspect of the business; championing and promoting a more resourceful, efficient, and productive approach to waste management in Northern Ireland.

2017 was an eventful year for RiverRidge, who achieved Gold in the NI Environmental Benchmarking survey, in addition to receiving Export and Freight’s newest accolade for Excellence in Compliance at the annual Transport & Logistics Awards. The award-winning company rounded off the year as the official sponsor to the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards, and added two new, specially designed, waste trucks to its fleet.

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Commenting on the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards, Strategic Development Manager Alan Sproule said: “We have found the sponsorship a very fulfilling and worthwhile exercise so far. We particularly enjoyed the awards evening and were delighted to be a part of this event. As we are a local company we like to maintain close links with local businesses and this partnership allows us to do so with a significant sector within the Northern Ireland market.”

In April of 2017, in an attempt to regulate the amount of food waste sent to landfill by businesses every week, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency set out further food waste legislation. The outcome has meant any business producing more than 5kgs of food leftovers now must dispose of it in a separate bin for collection.

Naturally, this caused uproar among small business owners in Northern Ireland, many of which are already struggling to compete against the tidal wave of high business rates, wage increases, and a lower disposable income among customers.

Alan told Neighbourhood Retailer: “Retailers face constant challenges but recently following new legislation, the disposal of food waste has become a high priority. Food waste must now be segregated from other waste streams and disposed of separately using a non-landfill solution.

“In a response to these new guidelines set out by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, RiverRidge identified a collection scheme and compliant disposal option so we can provide retailers with the means to comply with the legislation in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

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RiverRidge has led the way in advising organisations, particularly those in the hospitality sector, on how they can remain compliant with the new legislation.  In response to the new legislation, RiverRidge has developed a number of sustainable techniques and principles, which can support businesses looking to either embark in a sustainable business programme, or to take an existing programme to a new level.

The company’s experienced team has worked with a diverse range of business types and they are able to develop waste management solutions that are appropriate to any business sector. The solutions offered can vary considerably from waste reduction in the first instance, to effective waste separation.

“Ensuring that each and every customer receives a level of service unparalleled elsewhere within the market is our top priority,” said Alan. “Our Customer Care Units are the first of their kind for a local independent waste operator in NI, and can act as an accessible point of contact for all customers, enabling the cultivation of excellent customer relationships.”

Providing solutions across the board for manufacturers, retailers, and distributers, a RiverRidge representative will meet with any new prospective client to discuss the individual needs of the business.

“We take great pride in tailoring each solution to the specific needs of a business, no matter the business size or sector,” said Alan.

“Our overriding focus is on helping businesses identify ways in which they can dispose of their material in a compliant and sustainable manner.”

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Neighbourhood Retailer is keen to find out what the future holds for waste management. Alan predicts that convincing consumers to rethink the word ‘waste’ will be a major part of changing perceptions towards recycling going forward.

“RiverRidge appreciates that it is certainly not a wasted material, but instead a raw material that will be a valuable commodity of tomorrow. However, we need to work together to change the public’s attitude to align with ours to achieve a radical overall.

“The waste to energy market is currently growing rapidly around the world and it will play a major role in the future landscape of waste management.”

Moving forward into 2018, RiverRidge has developed Northern Ireland’s first large scale waste to energy facility. The state-of-the-art, £107m gasification plant is located near Bombardier’s Wing facility in Belfast, and once fully operational, the plant will be able to recover energy from 160,000 metric tonnes of refuse derived fuel each year, and deliver a new source of energy.

“It is an exciting time for RiverRidge and we are driven by a commitment to create a better future and environment for everyone in Northern Ireland.”

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