An unusual spectacle took place on Saturday 15 June at Weston-super-Mare seafront. Hundreds of bin men and women from all across the UK competed in the third annual National Refuse Championships (NRC), to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society.
Thousands of people gathered along the Beach Lawns to watch 26 teams compete in gruelling races against the clock – repeatedly loading wheelie bins with bags of sand then pulling or pushing them, whilst running, to an awaiting refuse truck and emptying them before the vehicles raced to the finish line. Teams who took part included Biffa Sussex, Grundon, Bristol Waste Company, Oxford Direct Services, Faun Zoeller, Smiths Waste Management, Cartwrights, Amey, Pirtek, Imperial Commercials, Cawleys, and Devon Contract Waste.
The winners of the National Refuse Championships 2019 were Grist Environmental, a waste management company from Devizes, Wiltshire, who retain the title from last year and remain the undisputed ‘fastest collection team in the UK’. The company also donated the crowd barriers, security fencing, on-site toilets, waste management and litter picking for the event.
Local team Biffa Sussex also achieved the same position as last year coming in a close second and Warwick-based refuse vehicle manufacturer, Dennis Eagle came third. Quality Co-ordinator, Johnny McGonigle said: “It was great fun, I hope we’ve raised plenty for The Alzheimer’s Society.
“We might have taken the racing a little bit seriously – did it show? Finishing third is just close enough for us to want to come back next year and win it. The training starts now!”
The winning team were presented with a trophy and received £3000 worth of Centre Parcs vouchers. First place runners received £1250 of Buy-A-Gift vouchers and second place runners up £1000 of Buy-A-Gift vouchers.
Marcus Grist, Events Director, Grist Environmental and Team Captain/Driver: “It was a great day and the sportsmanship between the teams was fantastic. In the final, Biffa insisted that five seconds were to be taken off our time to make up for a malfunctioning bin-lift on our refuse truck. We love the event and we’ve never been beaten over the line, although we did come second one year due to penalties. Our families had a superb time too. The children loved getting inside the trucks, as well as all the giveaways. There was a lot of pressure on us this year. One of our drivers said he found his daughters searching up what they wanted to do at Centre Parcs so he knew he needed to win! Huge thanks to Spencer, Tracy and the team for all their hard work. The Alzheimer’s Society is a great charity and I hope we’ve done them proud again.”
The races were officially opened by Councillor Richard Westwood, Vice Chairman of North Somerset Council and Vincent Dignam, Business Improvement and Performance Manager for City of London.
Richard said: “It was very worthwhile to see the level of support provided by the refuse collection industry to this ‘It’s a Knockout with Bin Lorries’ competition. A great deal of effort was put into it by all concerned. This is the third year that the event has been held in North Somerset and we would be delighted to see it return every year.”
Vincent later added: “The City of London was honoured to be asked to open the National Refuse Championships 2019. This event is a testament to all those involved and brings all pillars of the waste industry together not only to provide conference talks, specialist vehicles, and equipment displays but to also raise money for a great cause. The event has grown over the last few years and will hopefully continue to do so.”
Spencer Law, Founder of the NRC and Managing Director, Refuse Vehicle Solutions Ltd (RVS) said of the event: “We are delighted with how the waste management industry and the people of Weston-super-Mare have embraced this event. It just gets better and better every year. We had lots of coverage on TV and social media. We are still calculating how much has been raised for The Alzheimer’s Society but we hope it will beat last year’s amount which was in excess of £20,000.
“Massive thanks to everyone who supported the event. We will be returning next year and plan to announce a date for the National Refuse Championships 2020 very soon.”
The final amount raised by this year’s event will be announced soon, but the organisers are confident they will beat last year’s total of over £21,000.
Alan Richardson, Alzheimer’s Society Volunteer Fundraising Representative: “The National Refuse Championships have already raised an incredible amount of money for Alzheimer’s Society over the past two years, so we were thrilled to be involved again. We cannot thank Refuse Vehicle Solutions enough for organising the event and helping to raise awareness of dementia. We would also like to thank everyone who took part in the event. The money raised will help us continue supporting people living with dementia while we fund research looking for a cure.”
On Friday 14 June, the organisers hosted a waste management and recycling DECK (Demonstrations, Education, Careers and Knowledge) day, with live product and vehicle demonstrations including the latest refuse vehicle technology, bin-weighing, cyclist safety, and alternative fuels. Keynote speakers included Cynthia Barlow OBE, Chair of Road Peace, a national charity for road crash victims.
Visitors included 25 children from Years four and five at Windwhistle School who had a great time visiting the different vehicles, having photos taken and collecting mementos from the exhibitors.
For more information: National Refuse Championships