Our Story

Watch this video to find out more about our journey so far and our vision for the future of recycling.

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 founder, 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. We stopped providing this service in 2020 as we continued to focus on the provision of household services. 

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 180,000 households and built a state of the art MRF to process recyclables collected from a further 250,000 households.

Image caption: Our MRF in Mallusk where we process materials collected mixed (co-mingled) in recycling bins across 5 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. In 2022 we took over the management of 3 additional Recycling Centres in Denbighshire County Council. We also have Reuse Shops at our sites in Mochdre and Rhyl which we operate in partnership with St David's Hospice. 

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

In 2019 we won a contract with Conwy County Borough Council to provide a garden waste collection service to households in the areas on a subscription basis. 

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council awarded up a contract in 2020 to collect refuse bins from 22,000 households in the Antrim area. In 2023 we won a further contract with the council to provide a refuse collection service to all 60,000 households across the whole Borough. 

Conwy Garden Waste
Image caption: Garden Waste Collection Service in Conwy

Bryson recycling is now the largest social enterprise recycler in the UK; we collect and process materials collected from over 50% of homes in Northern Ireland, operating 11 recycling centres in Donegal and Wales and provide collection services for garden and residual waste. We are always 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 “Recycle the Right Way”.

Image caption: The Bryson Model