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iRecycle, you recycle, we all recycle together

November 2018 saw a trial run for the ‘Bins by Boat’ pilot project, one of the innovative proposals to improve boater bin and recycling services. Find out more about the project and how you can recycle on our waterways below.

iRecycle barge

Run by iRecycle, a new contractor providing waste services by boat for Camden Markets and supported by the Trust, the one-day trial was the first of several test runs for continuous cruisers on the Paddington Arm - at no cost to boaters.

With more people choosing to live on board, particularly in urban areas, managing the amount of waste nationally is a challenge. So, it's important to find innovative and environmentally-friendly ways to help boaters dispose of their rubbish.

How the pilot scheme worked

iRecyle provided bags for boaters to sort their waste into. These were collected from their boats as the iRecycle barge cruised past to the PowerDay waste transfer station, where all non-food waste collected was sorted and recycled. Collected food waste went through a process of anaerobic digestion via a food waste management partner and converted into renewable energy or biofertliser.

How much was collected?

An estimated 50 boats took part in the trial, which was run for continuous cruisers on the Paddington Arm between Camden and Old Oak, resulting in:

  • 70 bags of recycling
  • 10 bags of food waste
  • almost a tonne of mixed recycling
  • 71% was recycled
  • Only 29% going to incineration to energy (and zero to landfill)
  • 40kgs of food waste was collected and sent to undergo anaerobic digestion

iRecycle estimates that over the year, such volumes would save 6.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 5,000 road miles by diverting waste collections from the road to the water.

Bins by Boat

The longer trial in March 2019

In March 2019, iRecycle took the learnings from the pilot project to gear up for a trial weekly collection for boaters, over a four-week period in March. Bins were collected every Thursday from boaters moored between Camden and Grand Junction Arms (Willesden).

iRecycle are working with us to see if this can be a viable option for boaters over the longer term on the Paddington Arm, and potentially in other locations on London's waterways. And who knows, further afield!

Meanwhile, if you're a boater and you want to recycle here's what you need to know.

How you can recycle on the waterways

You'll find hundreds of refuse or rubbish sites across our waterways. Where possible, we try to have three types of bin at every site – whether that's an office, workshop or on the towpath:

  • General waste
  • Dry mixed recycling
  • Glass

Unfortunately, this isn't always the case because:

  • There's just not the physical space on site
  • The contractor doesn't ‘cover' that location to collect from site
  • The remote locations or impractical routes of a lot of our sites make it tricky for the large bin lorries to get to them
  • Rubbish is put in the wrong bin. If a ‘dry mixed recycling' or glass bin includes a mix of waste, the contractor can't collect it as recyclable and they pick it up on the general waste service day instead

Here's our handy reminder of what goes into our dry mixed recycling bins – and what doesn't:

What to recycle in our boater waste bins

What we can all do to win the Plastics Challenge

Bins don't prevent litter, although they do reduce it.

In fact, our contractor helps us look after around 300 boaters' rubbish sites across our waterways. Many more are managed by our own regional teams, volunteers or even local councils. And we're working to make the most of the ones we do have. The more the right waste goes in the right bin, the less it costs to deal with the rubbish and the more gets diverted away from the dreaded landfill. As of May 2019, about 83% of the waste our contractor collects is diverted, and that number is only increasing.

Sadly, not everyone uses bins even when they are in place. That's why we're asking people to not only take their own plastic and litter home with them. But to get involved with our #PlasticsChallenge and pick up a piece of plastic every time they visit the waterways. Together we'll reduce the rubbish and help our waterways to be clear within a year.


Take our Plastics Challenge

Discover what you can do on your doorstep to tackle the global plastics crisis

Last Edited: 18 June 2019

photo of a location on the canals
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