Liverpool family firm that is helping turn ducks into wheelie bins

Gaskells Waste Services was handed the task of collecting and recycling 5,000 plastic ducks from the River Irwell following the world famous Manchester Duck Race on Good Friday. Tony McDonough reports

Manchester Duck Race
Gaskells Waste Services collected the ducks from the Manchester Duck Race


It’s the strangest form of alchemy you could imagine – turning ducks into wheelie bins – but one Liverpool firm is showing it is up to this surreal challenge.

Gaskells Waste Services, one of the largest independent waste management companies in the North West, was handed the task of collecting and recycling 5,000 plastic ducks from the River Irwell following the world famous Manchester Duck Race on Good Friday.

Over the past 10 years the hugely popular event has raised £2m for children’s charity Brainwave but concerns have been raised previously about plastic pollution and the environmental impact of the race.

But Gaskells, which has also just found out it is shortlisted for the National Recycling Awards 2019, worked closely with Brainwave to ensure no duck was left behind once the event was over.

Recovery team

At the start of the race a series of nets are placed in the river to stop any ducks drifting downstream. After the event a recovery team take to their canoes for a considerable time to collect any stray ducks. All potential sightings of any ducks are taken very seriously and in the past organisers have even recovered ducks from other charity events.

Once collected, that’s where Gaskells Waste Services comes. One of their trucks headed to Manchester to collect them for the first stage of their recycling journey. Stage two saw them dropped off at Venture Polymers  n Newton-le-Willows to be processed. In the past the ducks have come back as buckets and supermarket pallets, and this year will be put into a plastic mix to be recycled into wheelie bins.

Commercial director at family-owned Gaskells, Denise Banks, said “We got involved with Brainwave four years ago when they got in touch saying they were looking for a waste management company to help them get rid of their ducks in a responsible way.

“We collect the ducks free of charge to make sure more money goes to the charity because the work Brainwave does for children with disabilities and their families is wonderful.

“As a company, we’re totally committed to the environment. We recycle and re-use as much as possible to reduce reliance on landfill, so are glad to have fitted the ‘bill’ so to speak.”

Gaskells has been nominated for an award for its Drivers Swapping Eight Wheels for Two initiative


Trucks for bikes

The firm has also been shortlisted for the National Recycling Awards 2019 in the Health and Safety category. This is for the Drivers Swapping Eight Wheels for Two initiative, which sees all drivers swap their trucks for bikes, and cycle round busy industrial areas to get a cyclists eye view of the dangers they face on the road.

The company works with BikeRight UK on the course and also has ground breaking Cyclear Technology from ISS installed across all its fleet. The technology is equipped with sensors and warning lights and sounds to alert drivers, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

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