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Farmers could lead recycling drive

Farmers have been heralded as the entrepreneurs that could help the UK meet its landfill diversion targets for 2010.

While the East of England is said to need 60 new sites if it is to meet requirements, Freedom Recycling director Pam Cobbold is leading a new breed of landowners who are pointing the way forward.

She ran a successful vegetable processing and packaging company from her base near Thetford in Norfolk, but when this closed due to factors such as increased competition from abroad, she realised that she had a great asset on her hands and helped found Freedom. 

While a lot of new entrants into the market find costing for land and buildings difficult, this was all already in place, with space for storing waste and large concrete buildings to house machinery also available.

Furthermore, planning permission for the site was passed relatively easily compared to new projects. While local authorities are reluctant to give the go-ahead to green-field sites without a high level of analysis, the fact that Cobbolds land had been used for industrial purposes before, allowed it to be rubber-stamped with the minimum of fuss.

Consultancy WISER has been working with the company. Consultant Charles Thomas said: More and more of our clients are farmers who are looking for diversification. They are entrepreneurs who have worked through the hard times and have very good assets.

They are the best people to make worth out of these assets as they realise there is an opportunity to use warehouses that are laying dormant whether its for processing recyclables or setting up in-vessel composting.

While its first site, a state-of-the-art resource recovery facility for kerbside collected paper, cardboard, plastic and cans should be operational by next March, the companys plans dont end there.

Thomas added: Freedom is now also looking to develop a composting site. It all ties up as the agricultural industry has the entrepreneurs to pursue such projects while local authorities obviously have the need for recycling.

Also, the industrial land is already there as far as planning is concerned. It is a lot easier than finding green-field sites and the planning authorities see that.

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