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Recycling competition winners back Northumberland waste facility

Two Northumberland residents are celebrating after winning a laptop and printer in a County Council competition to raise awareness about recycling.

Liz and George Sancaster, from Cramlington, entered the competition along with more than 500 other Northumberland residents, and were selected as the lucky winners. To enter they had to watch a special video about recycling on the council’s website and answer a question about it.

The couple have donated the laptop to their grandson, Lewis Fairfax, who is hoping to start university later this year.

A special part of their prize was a guided tour of SITA UK’s Materials Recycling Facility at West Sleekburn, which will soon process all of the recyclables collected right across Northumberland.

The centre, which is based on an industrial estate on the outskirts of West Sleekburn, stands at 9,000 square metres, which is the equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Its state-of-the-art optical sorting equipment is also able to identify and separate paper, card, plastic bottles, to process 15 tonnes per hour of mixed recyclable materials, including newspapers, cardboard, plastic bottles and tins, before they are then sold on for re-processing to approved companies across the UK.

Liz Sancaster said: "I’d like to thank Northumberland County Council and SITA UK. We couldn’t believe it at first when we found out we had won, but we’re delighted. Our visit to the recycling centre has been a real eye-opener. It was fascinating to see the technology and hard work that separates all the recyclables, and incredible to see the amount of material that we are recycling every week in Northumberland."

Cllr Alan Thompson, Executive Member for the Environment at Northumberland County Council, said: "Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Sancaster. We started this initiative to encourage people to go on to our website and learn more about why we recycle things in the way we do and to show people exactly what happens to the recyclables we collect in Northumberland, and to get over 500 people entering shows the level of interest in this subject across the county."

Richard Hinchcliffe, general manager for SITA UK in Northumberland, said: "We know that local residents across the county are passionate about playing their part in recycling and reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill. Mr. and Mrs Sancaster were worthy winners and very interested visitors to our site. We’re always keen to show people what we do here, and regularly host visits from community groups."

The West Sleekburn facility is the result of a 28-year partnership between SITA UK and the council that aims to transform recycling and waste management in the county.

Its ultimate aim is to reduce the county’s long-term reliance on landfill, so that just eight per cent of the county’s waste goes to landfill by 2012. This will be a huge benefit to the environment and save council tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds in landfill tax.

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