Glass recycling firm invest £500k in Barnsley operation

Published 21st May 2013 at 3:00pm

A Barnsley glass recycling firm has smashed its targets for growth in the last year increasing its turnover by 50 per cent and expanding its business.

GB Cullet, of Wombwell, collects unwanted double glazing units from across the UK and converts the glass panes into broken glass – or cullet – which is then used by specialist manufacturers to make new windows, bottles and jars, as well as loft insulation and the reflective beads used in road surfaces.

Brothers Gary and Bryn Hopkins, who set up the company in 2004, have overseen a £500,000 investment in the business over the last year. The cash has been used to move in to larger premises and develop an on-site processing plant, where pure glass can be extracted from commercial windows and doors, which have a particularly tricky layer of laminate (PVB) running through them.

With increased capacity and efficiency, the company’s turnover has already risen by 50 per cent from £1 million in 2010-11 to £1.5 million in 2011-2012. The company has recruited seven new members of staff in the last six months or so, which takes its workforce up to 20.

Their rapid expansion has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, which aims to help businesses in the borough grow.

GB Cullet’s Gary Hopkins said: “We have invested a massive amount of time, effort and money in developing the business over the last 18 months and are very optimistic about the future.

“As one of just a handful of companies carrying out this type of specialist recycling work in the UK, we are now well-placed to grow our market, create more new jobs and increase profitability.”

About 35 per cent of GB Cullet’s recent investment has come from two grants which Enterprising Barnsley helped the company secure.

Gary said: “Enterprising Barnsley business coaches gave us the tools we needed to apply for CO2Sense and the Regional Growth Fund grants. They also helped us handle our applications for planning approval and environmental permits. Their input has been invaluable.”

Enterprising Barnsley gave the GB Cullet team free business coaching to improve financial management, health and safety procedures and production processes too.

The company’s acquisition of a 6,000 square foot building on a half acre site off Bradbury Balk Lane, Wombwell, consolidates their business in Barnsley. They previously worked from a small yard nearby, which they retain, and used a glass processing facility in Leeds.

GB Cullet recycles about 400,000 tonnes of material a year collecting unwanted double glazing units from 130 sites across the north of England, the Midlands, Scotland and even South Wales. The unwanted units may be new off-cuts, spares due to errors in measurement or old units.

Every by-product in the GB Cullet process, including the uPVC frames, wood, aluminium and even cardboard packaging, is 100 per cent recycled and sold on.

About ten companies buy the separated materials from GB Cullet and the firm is now working with Enterprising Barnsley to improve marketing and attract new customers. Investment in the new de-laminating plant means the company can explore the market for recycling car windscreens too.

Enterprising Barnsley Business Development Manager Shaun Higginbottom said: “GB Cullet is a Barnsley success story and we have been very pleased to support their strategy for growth and bids for funding to invest in the business.

“Seven new jobs in as many months is good news for the local economy and we know the company hopes to create more jobs soon, as they anticipate further increases in turnover this year and beyond.”

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA) and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC). 

The programme is supported financially by the European Union. The project has attracted £2,259,511 investment into Barnsley from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.