South Tyneside Council is boosting its green credentials with an innovative new rainwater recycling scheme.
The rainwater run-off system is enabling the Council to collect water from the roof of the authority's new Recycling Transfer Station, which has recently been built at Middlefields Industrial Estate in South Shields.
The water is then stored in a 25,000-litre capacity tank to be reused by the Council, and South Tyneside Homes, as part of their gully and mechanical street cleansing operations. It is expected that around 470,000 litres of rainwater will be harvested per year and used to fill mechanical brushes and cleansing and jet-wash equipment.
Councillor Ernest Gibson is the Council's Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety with special responsibility for Climate Change.
He said: "In the normal course of their daily street cleaning and maintenance services, the Council and South Tyneside Homes uses a significant amount of water - around 20,000 litres in a typical day. This helps our teams keep our Borough clean and tidy and gullies clear of debris.
"We strive to be more eco-friendly in all of our operations and clearly any way to reduce the amount of water we use is going to have a positive impact on the environment as well as make a significant contribution towards our aim of become a carbon neutral council by 2030."
The recently completed Recycling Transfer Station at Middlefields will enable the Council to store and sort up to 20,000 tonnes of recyclable materials it collects through the blue bin service, instead of having to transport them for sorting to facilities outside of the Borough under previous arrangements.
This new process will help the Council to cut its vehicle emissions by around 400 tonnes per year, reduce journeys by more than 4,000 and save 155,000 litres in fuel while improving the quality of the materials collected and reducing contamination, before the material is sent on for further processing.
New solar panels installed on the roof will also help to generate around 80,000kW of electricity annually. The new building will result in efficiency savings of around £275,000 per year.
Councillor Gibson added: "We are always looking at innovative new ways to reduce our overall carbon footprint, whether this is by investing in renewable technologies, saving energy, cutting emissions or increasing our recycling rates.
"This new facility not only helps us to fulfil our waste and recycling commitments but builds on the progress we have already made towards our ambitious carbon neutral targets.
"Through the recycling of rainwater, we can reduce our impact on the environment even further while providing a sustainable water supply for our cleansing vehicles."