Old Swan Household Waste Recycling Centre

CEEQUAL Excellent (86.5%) – Whole Team Award
Version 5, March 2016 | Liverpool, England, UK

Winner – CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2016 – Material Use
Highly Commended – CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards 2016 – Community and Stakeholder Relations

Client: Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority;
Designer: Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd;
Constructor: Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd;

Assessors: Gemma Fenn (Cheetham Hill Construction) and Graeme Bell (Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority)
Verifier: Perry Shard

Project summary

The Old Swan Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) is a new recycling facility for residents in central Liverpool who previously had no such facility on their doorstep. The new Liverpool recycling centre has been built on a 0.90 hectares brownfield site that previously formed part of a water works.

Old Swan HWRC has been designed to handle up to 15,000 tonnes of recyclable materials each year, with receptacles for over 38 different household recyclable materials and household waste. This includes most known recyclabes – like paper, cardboard, glass bottles and textiles – to larger items such as electrical and white goods, televisions and furniture. A dedicated Re-use Shop allows people to support a local charity by donating and buying pre-loved household goods and an Easy Access area is provided for people who find depositing into skips difficult.

The bulk recycling area consists of concrete retaining walls, built in a herringbone configuration, with 1.5m level difference. The are is covered by a forecourt style canopy roof and the centre has been designed to minimise impacts on local roads by having queuing room on the site.

The construction works also included:

  • A welfare facility (including offices, rest area, showers and WC)
  • An upper level public access and queuing area
  • Supply and commission three GRP sentry “meet and greet” shelters
  • Alterations to the existing fences, and installation of new fence, gate and barriers
  • Drainage and services
  • Street lighting
  • Road marking and traffic signs
  • Soft landscaping
  • Provision of bicycle parking and shelter


Challenges and achievements

Project management

To deliver this project MRWA has worked in partnership with;

  • Liverpool City Council to acquire the land and access to the new site.
  • Civil engineering and construction contractor Cheetham Hill Construction Ltd who has worked with MRWA on a number of HWRC’s. A collaborative approach has brought best practice and previous lessons learnt to this new development. We share core values, including Corporate Social Responsibility. CHC went the extra mile to support MRWA’s endeavours in the local community, over and above any contractual or construction requirements.

People and communities

In line with our CSR commitment it is vital to involve local people at each stage of the project to ensure the facility will benefit the local community and future generations to come. Two phases of planning consultation, with a range of engagement activities took place with local residents, businesses, statutory bodies, environmental groups and road users, all of which helped shape the initial project.

During our engagement we include information on;

  • sustainable construction techniques and materials
  • the reasons why the site is needed,
  • waste as a resource and how items can be reused or recycled.
  • how we can all do our bit for the environment

Once construction started we had a number of initiatives that encouraged further Community involvement.

Merseyside Disability Federation (MDF)

It’s not always easy for people with ranging disability to use some HWRC’s so it was important to consult experts in this field in order to incorporate their recommendations into the development of the new site. We worked with Merseyside Disability Federation (a local charity), CHC and Veolia (the contractor who operates the HWRC service) to explore ways in which people with disability can have greater accessibility on this new (and other) HWRC. MDF advice included recommendations for site signage, placement of receptacles, site information leaflets and site staff customer care training. MDF help has been invaluable. We are also developing an “Easy Access Area” where any person can leave items if they find depositing into skips difficult.

The Big Mosaic Challenge

Working with local community mosaic artist Bernadette Hughes from the Rainford Design Studio, we set the “Big Mosaic Challenge”. We set up stall at the local Community Makers Market at the Joseph Lappin Centre and asked local residents to reuse a piece of broken ceramic by putting it into ‘A Swan for Old Swan’. The materials in the piece reused ceramic crockery, which otherwise would have been thrown in the bin. Over 50 local people took part and the mosaic swan will be installed as a permanent feature on the site. Watch this space for the “Bigger Mosaic Challenge!!”

Recycled Fashion Show

Over a six week period we worked with the 22nd Brownie Pack in Liverpool. The girls wanted to raise awareness to the amount of clothing in the household bin (lots of which maybe unwanted but still useable). They designed and refashioning outfits from old clothes and held a Recycled Fashion show for family and friends to raise awareness. They chose the theme ‘From an Ugly Duckling to a Beautiful Swan’, which reiterates how we all feel about our new site!!

The Time Capsule

In the future some of the things we regard as rubbish today will be used as a resource; and things that are hi-tech now, may seem old fashioned! The Brownies wanted to create a snap shot of our times by collecting everyday items (see list Appendix 4), together with some ‘dreams and aspirations’ for the future; they also included details of the HWRC construction and thoughts on what is ‘waste’ today. CHC welcomed a visit to site from the Brownies to bury the time capsule for posterity, to be retrieved in 25 years’ time. A marker plaque has been placed over the burial area. The time capsule has been registered with the International Time Capsule Society in London together with a record of the items included. We hope that some of the girls will come along to the retrieval ceremony in 2040. After all their hard work the girls achieved their Environmental Brownie Badge and are now Ambassadors for the new site.

Time capsule
Time capsule

The legacy of CEEQUAL will be to continue to work with our local community to raise awareness of the positive benefits of the site. We are planning further information and engagement events in the local area, all to encourage local people to embrace their local HWRC. For example, in the spring we’ll be working with the National Association of Women’s Groups holding a series of awareness discussion groups.

There’ll also be community events with;

  • local schools,
  • supermarkets,
  • local shops,
  • Community Makers Market
  • Merseyside Disability Federation
  • library
  • local housing associations

To engage further with people in the local community, we’ve started work on a Community event to win a Guinness World Record for the most people taking part in creating a mosaic, with the ‘Bigger Mosaic Challenge’ to create a Community Art piece for the site.

Physical resource use and management

Site Clearance

The cut and fill design optimised as much of the site won materials as possible. Topsoil and subsoil, were excavated, stored and kept for reuse in the development. This reduced the number of wagons required to take materials away and deliver new materials to a minimum. 100% of the topsoil won on site was reused. 1084 m3 of crushed stone and 767 m3 of MOT was generated by site clearance, 100% of these materials were reused on the site. 1426m3 of backfill was created the vast majority of which was reused on site. 67% by volume of material from deconstruction of the original site has been incorporated into the construction.

Site won material
Site won material
Site won material
Site won material

Site drainage

A new surface water and foul water drainage system was installed with storm water holding tanks. All water from the hardstanding areas drain to foul sewer, to ensure no dirty water contaminates the surface water drainage system, as required by the site environmental permit.

Rainwater harvesting tanks were installed to capture rainwater runoff from the weather protection canopy and the WEEE/ Easy Access and Reuse building. This is reused for wash-down on site and will save many gallons of potable water.

Attenuation tank
Attenuation tank

Rainwater harvesting tank

Rainwater harvesting tank


Lighting columns have energy efficient LED units providing low power consumption, low maintenance and less light pollution.

Site waste management plan

Identified areas for maximising material efficiency and 99% of waste generated has been recovered or recycled off site, with only 1% waste going to landfill.

Skips for segregating construction waste
Skips for segregating construction waste

Material Use

A number of local material suppliers were used for their proximity to the site. For example, 333 tonnes of recycled materials were supplied by Lafarge, who are based adjacent to the site, replacing the need for virgin aggregate materials and significantly reducing the number of vehicle movements; maximising resource efficiency and carbon benefits. 100% FSC timber was used for the site hoardings. Plus, at the end of its useful life, over 95% of the HWRC infrastructure can be dismantled and then reused or recycled.

To what extent did the use of CEEQUAL influence your project?

This is the fourth MRWA Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) that has used CEEQUAL in its development. Learning has been transferred and improvements made across all of the projects.

The use of CEEQUAL provides a structure to follow and a toolkit to use to ensure that Sustainable Development is integrated as much as possible into the project. The structure provides an opportunity to engage the team and think outside the box.

For this project, and the previous HWRC sites redeveloped by MRWA, sustainability has been a key driver in the inception and development process, making life easier for residents to recycle their waste.

Utilising CEEQUAL enabled the project to be delivered as part of a team approach, which has proven its worth across each of the schemes MRWA has applied the CEEQUAL scheme to.

CEEQUAL has assisted MRWA and CHC in delivering their sustainability aspirations whilst providing a well built, functional and useful resource to the people of Merseyside.

Completed site
Completed site
Completed site
Completed site