Our Story

Northern Ireland’s largest social enterprise has been delivering recycling services for over two decades.

Bryson began its first recycling project in 1993 with the Cash for Cans scheme where we encouraged people to recycle aluminium drinks cans by providing accessible collection points at locations such as supermarkets where they could be exchanged for cash. This soon spread across Northern Ireland with many youth and community groups and, business and individuals participating in the scheme. Between 1993 and 1999 over 6 million cans were collected each year.

Eric Randall our story
Image caption: Eric Randall, our current Director at Bryson Recycling, baling cans collected through the Cash for Cans scheme in 1993.

With changes in legislation and a realisation that we need to be more environmentally aware, councils were looking for ways to get more of their residents recycling. In 2001 we set up a pilot kerbside recycling programme in partnership with Belfast City Council, Ards Borough Council and Castlereagh Borough Council. We provided kerbside boxes to 8000 households to collect paper, glass bottles and jars, food and drinks cans, plastic bottles, foil, textiles and old hand tools. Weekly collections were made using electric vehicles.

Pedestrian controlled vehicle
Image caption: Pedestrian controlled vehicle collecting in the Willowfield area of Belfast.

In 2003 we started collecting recyclables from schools and this service grew to become our commercial service, through which we currently collect from over 500 businesses and schools in the Eastern region of Northern Ireland.

Commercial collection
Image caption: Helping businesses and schools cut their waste with regular recycling collections.

It was during 2004 and 2005 that Bryson Recycling went through a very substantial period of growth, thanks to winning a number of local authority contracts in quick succession. Our number of employees jumped from 30 to over 200 in 12 months and we relocated our operations to Mallusk, as we rolled our kerbside box service out to 170,000 households and built a state of the art MRF to process recyclables collected from a further 250,000 households.

MRF
Image caption: Our MRF in Mallusk where we process materials collected mixed (co-mingled) in recycling bins across 7 council areas.

In 2012 and 2013 we won our first contracts outside Northern Ireland. The first was with Donegal County Council to manage six Recycling Centres in County Donegal, and the second was with Conwy County Borough Council to manage two Recycling Centres in North Wales.

Donegal recycling centre
Image caption: One of our Recycling Centres in Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Bryson recycling is now the largest social enterprise recycler in the UK; we collect and process materials collected from over 60% of homes in Northern Ireland, as well as operating 8 recycling centres in Donegal and Wales. In recent years we have been looking for ways to develop our kerbside collection service and have brought two new products to the marketplace – the Kerb-Sort vehicle and the Wheelie Box. You can read more about this in “Our Approach”.

Kerb-sort
Image caption: The Bryson collection model