Such a move could have massive benefits for local authorities, companies and organisations in the North of England and Scotland, where many large cities are close to waterways and have good access to northern and southern Ireland.
Crewe is among the first to explore this avenue, with its waste currently travelling for up to five hours to be processed in Norwich. However, by using the port of Heysham in Lancashire to transport waste to Warrenpoint near the Irish border, waste spends just two hours on the UK's roads.
Its final destination is Newry, County Down, where Re-Gen Waste is behind moves to take an increasing amount of co-mingled dry recyclables off the roads and sort it ready for processing.
Re-Gen Waste director Colin Doherty said: "There is definitely a shortage of sorting capacity on the UK mainland, with planning a major hold-up. It took us a year to get permission, but now it is in place, there is so much potential to work with councils. By using the waterways to transport the waste, it is also environmentally friendly."
The facility has already taken waste from Leeds, which is two and a half hours from Heysham, Northampton and Glasgow, with the geography of other cities such as Manchester and Liverpool making these viable propositions.
Doherty added: "The facility will take 60,000 tonnes a year when up to full capacity and will sort recyclables such as plastics bottles, steel and aluminium cans, newspapers, magazines and cardboard ready to be exported to China for recycling.
The company takes delivery of between 16 and 17 tonnes of mixed recyclables in each container, before sorting and baling the material.