Construction of a new recycling facility that will cut South Tyneside Council's annual carbon emissions by hundreds of tonnes is complete.
The £1.8 million transfer station has removed the need for waste to be delivered elsewhere prior to sorting, as was previously the case. This will cut vehicle emissions by 400 tonnes and save 155,000 litres of fuel per year.
The new facility will allow up to 20,000 tonnes of blue bin materials to be delivered locally and stored on site until there is enough for a bulk transfer to onward processors. This will result in over 4,000 journeys being avoided and 120,000 fewer miles travelled.
The upper floor of the building will be used for dropping off and storing materials and the lower level will provide access to a loading bay for HGVs.
Cllr Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety with responsibility for climate change, said: "It's great to see this new facility finished and operational.
"It is going to make a significant contribution towards our goal of becoming a carbon neutral council by 2030.
"It basically 'cuts out the middleman' and removes the need for unnecessary journeys, saving money, fuel, and most importantly hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions.
"Already, less than one per cent of South Tyneside's waste is sent to landfill but this new local transfer station will allow us to further reduce our impact on the environment."
Solar panels, which will generate around 80,000 kW of electricity annually, have been installed in the roof of the new building, which was built by Hall Construction Services Ltd.
Previously, blue bin material was taken to Gateshead for sorting. The new facility is capable of storing 10 days' worth of collected waste and, having eliminated the need for it to be transported to Gateshead, will save an estimated £275,000 in running costs, as well as reducing additional costs incurred because of contamination.
In July 2019 South Tyneside Council declared a climate emergency and pledged to take all necessary steps to make the council carbon neutral by 2030.
It has since produced a comprehensive climate change strategy, supported by a five-year action plan. It also pledged to become a champion for a carbon neutral future for the Borough.
Cllr Gibson added: "We've already significantly reduced the council's overall carbon footprint and we want to build on that progress to meet the ambitious targets we've set ourselves."