Case Studies

4R Group is at the forefront of pioneering technologies and consultancy services designed to find innovative and cost effective solutions to the environmental challenges of a wide variety of businesses and organisations.

Select your area of interest:

  • 4R Group

  • Where there's muck there's grass

    Where there's muck there's grass

  • 4R Recycling

  • How green is my spoil tip?

    How green is my spoil tip?

  • Creating the crowning glory at Croft Quarry

    Creating the crowning glory at Croft Quarry

  • Creating an enhanced visual landscape

    Creating an enhanced visual landscape

  • 'Spoil to Soil' at Womersley

    'Spoil to Soil' at Womersley

  • 4R Environmental Consultants

  • Waste Recycling for Land Benefit

    Waste Recycling for Land Benefit

  • From Quandary to Quarry

    From Quandary to Quarry

Where there's muck there's grass

Recycling Mixed Waste to Land Case Study

4R Group continues to develop the recycling market for mixed wastes


Do you ever wonder what happens to your household waste?

Significant investment has been made in recent years to develop specialist waste treatment technologies designed to turn mixed ‘black bag waste’ into recyclable materials.

Once the plastics, metal and glass are mechanically removed, the remaining organic fraction is stabilised, via composting, anaerobic digestion or thermal treatment to produce a sanitised organic rich material.

Where does ‘black bin waste’ currently go?

The 4R Group, in conjunction with several of Europe’s leading waste management companies, is pioneering the development of opportunities for recycling these organic rich materials to land.

The usability of the organic rich fraction is almost solely dependent on the feedstock into the treatment process and the technologies and methods used for separation and sanitisation.

The 4R Group has developed bespoke specifications for several large waste companies across the UK, each uniquely designed to restore a range of different soils and geological materials in situ.

4R Group has a dedicated team for sourcing and securing suitable land bank, throughout the UK, within viable distances of material production facilities. Our consultants are FACTS and WAMITAB qualified and will apply and obtain the environmental permits required to carry out the recycling activities. If required, 4R Group is also able to deploy its own mobile plant permits and staff technical competencies at an unlimited number of sites in England and Wales.

What’s going to happen in the future?

Growing numbers of treatment facilities means volumes of organic rich materials which need to be recycled, i.e. that need land bank, are increasing. Pressure on available land bank, eligible to receive these materials is increasing; this in turn intensifies the inevitable competition between waste recyclers, with a knock on effect on site gate fees which continue to rise as increasing outputs flood the market.

With mounting site and compliance costs it is even more important that treated waste outputs are produced to the highest possible standards, in order to facilitate their recovery to land. If done correctly, this should expand usability to include agricultural applications, development of which is ongoing.

How can 4R Group help?

Our experienced recycling team consists of soil scientists and operational professionals, capable of providing expert advice from waste treatment right through to the recovery of outputs to land. We can design and recommend unique and bespoke specifications so that outputs produced can be recycled efficiently and economically with confidence.

At 4R Group we encourage and promote sustainability and endeavour to recover wastes to help complete important nutrient cycles. Successful recovery of these valuable resources is beneficial to the producers and the landowners, but most importantly it diverts essential nutrients and organic matter from landfill, giving it back to our precious soils.


How green is my spoil tip?

Langton Colliery Spoil Case Study

June 2013 - March 2014

Utilising waste materials to restore brownfield land for long-term environmental gain

The former Langton Colliery Spoil is highly visible to travellers in both directions on the M1 motorway just south of junction 28 in Nottinghamshire. Having been dug over to remove coal 4R Recycling was asked to restore the soils on site turning it from black to green.


BEFORE RESTORATION July 2013                      AFTER RESTORATION May 2014 


If you’ve got the spoil, we can make the soil

The tip was washed by ReCycoal Ltd over a three year period which involved moving the whole tip and re-shaping it. With little soil originally on the site 4R Recycling was asked to reduce background acidity, improve organic matter and nutrient levels, then seed the former tip in accordance with tight planning requirements to create both agricultural and amenity land.

Satisfying the environment, local council, environment agency, local residents and the site owner

Working alongside ReCycoal Ltd our consultancy team helped draw up a restoration scheme that used inorganic and organic “waste” materials that satisfied the requirements of the county council to improve the site. Our team applied for a deployment to their Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency to allow the use of the specified “waste” materials in the project.

This deployment was granted and the importation of materials commenced using a variety of different lorry types, including over 23,000 tonnes of materials that were stockpiled, spread and incorporated into the existing surface in different areas depending upon the end use.

Following the completion of application heavy duty agricultural equipment was deployed to plough, create a seed bed and sow the various seed mixes required. Odour is always an issue when using organic materials to create soils on such sites, this was managed well by our Operations team on the Langton site in co-operation with the site owners and local residents.

Driving past the site on the M1 you would not realise it was a former colliery spoil tip, as it blends into the surrounding agricultural land.

Newly planted trees, hedgerows and new fencing lines perhaps give it away a little (and our sign). ReCycoal Ltd was delighted with the finished site and are looking to work with us on their next project.

Previously this type of restoration project would have received significant funding from the public purse. The Langton project received no public funding and is a highly visible example of a successful restoration project carried out by private industry and shows how the “Circular Economy” can work utilising “waste” materials to restore brownfield land for long-term environmental gain!

Our team of Soil Scientists, Environmental Scientists and Operations team provide a unique blend of experience when looking at restoring brownfield sites. Working alongside many site owners UK wide for over 20 years, we now offer our skills and expertise to clients outside the UK.


Creating the crowning glory at Croft Quarry

Croft Quarry Case Study

July 2014 - September 2015

Over many decades Croft Quarry has created a visible scar on the landscape of Leicestershire. The 4R team carried out the final stage of the restoration of the land, covering the top of the dome created by quarry spoil and finally completing the transformation of this area.


BEFORE RESTORATION July 2014                                     AFTER RESTORATION September 2015

The land is now suitable for amenity and leisure uses

The project not only restored a disused section of the quarry, but recycled 1,000s of tonnes of organic solids which would otherwise have been tricky to dispose of. Being paid a fee to recycle this material made the restoration cheaper for the landowner - big benefits all round!

The project: Phase 3 restoration of Croft Quarry - capping off

After hundreds of years of quarrying at Croft in Leicestershire, the beginning of the quarry’s restoration began more than a decade ago. In 2014 our team imported 1,000’s of tonnes of sewage sludge to enrich the top of the spoil heap, eventually making it suitable for cultivating seeding in March 2015.

Members of the 4R team have been involved with phases 1 and 2 of the recent restoration as employees of other organisations and we were proud to be asked to complete the job.

The brief
A steep stack had been created by centuries of quarrying. The land was essentially inert, with no nutrients on which plants could feed. This meant the now disused quarry continued to be a blot on the landscape despite two previous phases of restoration covering other areas of the site.

We were asked by the landowner to:

  • Cap off the top of the spoil tip, improving organic matter and nutrient levels
  • Ensure compliance with all local authority, Environment Agency and other regulatory authorities
  • Seed the site

How we did it
Our consultancy team worked with the client to agree a plan of importing organic materials to enrich the inert land. Once the plan was approved our team:

  • sourced and imported 1,000’s of tonnes of sewage sludge per hectare with which to enrich the inert landscape
  • stockpiled the sludge at the bottom of the stack (it was too steep for lorries) and used tractors to take it to the top
  • spread the sludge on top of the spoil heap, rather than mixing with the existing materials
  • managed the odour emitted when spreading the organic material using mobile de-odourising units
  • left the sludge to dry out and shrink before returning to cultivate and seed it a few months later

The site owners completed the final restoration of their site with little cost because we have relationships with water companies which need to constantly recycle their sewage sludge.

Our innovative use of sewage sludge not suitable for use on other types of land to enrich inert materials means the site is now suitable for woodland planting or amenity use and is no longer a scar on the Leicestershire landscape.

There are many benefits of choosing 4R Group as your land restoration partner, including:

  • Access to our soil and environmental scientists and operations experts
  • A unique approach to brownfield restoration
  • Tap into our network of contacts at water companies and other businesses who need to recycle their by-products which can be used to enrich sites such as quarries, cappedoff landfill sites, colliery and metal mine tips
  • Using industrial and domestic by products in this manner is a great example of how UK businesses are already involved in the ‘Circular Economy’
  • Creating green space where none existed also creates a new Carbon Capture situation

The restoration of Croft Quarry – started more than a decade ago – is now complete and local people are just as delighted as the landowner.
Within a few months of seeding the land had bloomed with grass covering the once brown and barren landscape.
Our before and after pictures illustrate just how dramatic the change is – the benefit to the local community is obvious.

Can we help with your next project?
Our team of soil scientists, environmental scientists and operations experts has been restoring brownfield sites for more than 20 years in the UK and abroad. Give us a call to see how we can help with your next project.


Creating an enhanced visual landscape

Seven Sisters Case Study

The former Aberpergwm Colliery, dominated the skyline for many years, in the Seven Sisters area of Neath, South Wales.

Following the end of coaling operations, in 1985 the site was left with little or no soil and required an innovative
solution to prevent the surface from oxidation and the surface run-off water becoming contaminated.


                                     BEFORE                                                                                         AFTER

Working with the landowner our consultancy team drew up a restoration scheme that used inorganic and organic “waste” materials, to create a substitute soil that satisfied the requirements of the regulators and improved the site.

We carried out all the regulatory work, to allow the use of the specified “waste” materials in the project. A total of 25,000 tonnes of material was used to create the substitute soil, which was incorporated into the surface of the site.

We paid the land owner a total royalty of £75,000 for the materials brought onto site.

Showcasing our expertise in the restoration of brownfield sites

We covered all the regulatory costs and all restoration works were completed at no cost to the land owner.

Following the completion of application, heavy duty agricultural equipment was deployed to plough, create a seed bed and sow the various seed mixes required.

Our team of Soil Scientists, Environmental Scientists and Operations experts, provide a unique blend of experience when looking at restoring brownfield sites. Working alongside many site owners, UK wide for over 20 years, we now offer our skills and expertise to clients outside the UK.

Previously this type of restoration project would have received significant funding from the public purse. The project received no public funding and is a highly visible example of a successful restoration project carried out by private industry and shows how the “Circular Economy” can work utilising “waste” materials.

The 4R Group is always looking for sites to improve and restore

                         THE SITE IN 2016


'Spoil to Soil' at Womersley

The colliery spoil tip at Womersley near Darrington, south of the A1/M62 interchange, had acted as the disposal point for spoil from the nearby Kellingley Colliery which was the last operational deep coal mine in the UK. Due to the deposition of millions of tonnes of deep mined colliery spoil the restoration scheme required the specialist 4R ‘spoil to soil’ restoration scheme approach. 


                                    BEFORE                                                                         AFTER

This approach involves:
• Consent from the regulators
• The careful selection and importation of bulk organic matter and lime-based ameliorants
• Incorporation to the correct depths at the correct quantities dependent on the materials used and the habitats required

This leads to:
• Obvious visual improvements and aesthetic value to the site
• Mitigation of Acidity
• Reduced site run off and siltation
• Increased water infiltration
• Development of different habitat types across different substrates on the site
• Provision of income to the landowner

The 4R ‘spoil to soil’ approach is managed to ensure the longevity and sustainability of any planting scheme. 

Our consultancy team worked with the landowner to agree a restoration masterplan on 90 hectares to create soils where no natural soil resources remained.

The project started in September 2016 under Environmental Permitting Regulation consents which were applied for by 4R and approved by the Environment Agency. Approximately 90,000 tonnes of suitable organic materials were used to treat on site colliery spoil and limestone fines remaining on site from when it was an active limestone quarry.

In the autumn of 2017, part of the site was seeded with a low maintenance, non-ryegrass seed mix. This seed mix established well despite the autumnal conditions at the time and a steeply sloping bank was stabilised by the plant growth. The slope, facing nearby residents, was revegetated such that the view from the neighbours was dramatically improved and for the first time since they moved to their home this area of the site was visually attractive compared to black colliery spoil.

An odour management plan was put in place during the process to control any odorous emissions to the neighbouring area. This involved communication with residents prior to activities such as spreading, recognition of wind direction and weather prior to spreading and careful location of stockpiles to maximise distance between potentially odorous materials and neighbours. In addition, all potentially odorous materials were incorporated immediately following spreading.

A grass sward is now developing across the site and will soon be ready for its planned end use of amenity green space and woodland to benefit the local community.

In common with other 4R Restoration projects the land owner received a royalty payment for the material imported.

Our team of soil scientists, environmental and operational staff provide a unique blend of experience when looking at restoring brownfield sites. This project adds to our expanding portfolio of land restoration, completing over 25 different sites and phases across the UK in the past 12 years for our landowners.

The 4R Group is always looking for brownfield sites to restore.



Waste Recycling for Land Benefit

Islands Case Study

The need for compliant, environmentally sound, cost effective operations on small islands


Our Challenge

• Assessing potential waste volumes, waste treatment options and potential real outlets for land recycling

• Make recommendations for improving compliance alongside customer demand & requirements

• Ensuring compliance with legislative and commercial controls are met and exceeded

Our Output

• Improved direction of future investment in waste treatment and recycling

• Decisions based on land manager demands and requirements

• Compliant operations for customers and stakeholders

Green waste, food waste, biosolids (treated sewage sludge), water treatment sludges and plasterboard gypsum, are just a few of a number of ‘waste’ treatment products produced by society. Each material has a potential value to farmers and land owners in terms of likely savings on agronomic inputs through the provision of organic matter, plant nutrients and soil conditioning benefits. But in an island situation pose a significant challenge, both financially and environmentally.

4R Environmental Consultants is working with a number of small Island Government Departments in the assessment of compliance with respect to EU waste treatment legislation, as well as marketing the resulting products for land benefit to farmers, horticulturalists and wider land based industries. Marketing of the products for land recycling is a fundamental issue for small islands, where the sea is both a physical and financial barrier for wider reuse of materials. On each island we engage with the majority of farmers, crop and product buying groups, plus key customers to assess their needs and restrictions on use of ‘waste’ materials for crop and animal production. This is doubly important where products have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, which must be safeguarded at all costs.

Each individual Island Government understands the requirements for a closed loop waste treatment and recycling service, on their island. They can also see where operations may need improving, according to treatment and recycling compliance, customer demands plus end user restrictions.

Why 4R Environmental Consultants?

With a range of in-house technical and operational experience in all areas of waste treatment and recycling, plus an understanding of soil science linked to end market requirements, we are uniquely placed to carry out specialist advice and add value in many areas.

Our in depth understanding of the environment and technical aspects of recycling materials for land benefit gives us considerable advantages over other consultancy based organisations. Particularly when dealing with “waste” producers and land managers who value the use of bulky organic and lime based soil conditioning materials on their land.


From Quandary to Quarry

Falmouth Marina improvements Case Study

Playing a key role in the Falmouth Marina improvements and restoration of the old China Clay pits


4R Environmental Consultants, part of the 4R Group, has applied innovative solutions to resource management problems during a major expansion and redevelopment at Premier Falmouth Marina, Cornwall.

This was part of a wider cost-effective and environmentally beneficial solution to treat and recycle contaminated dredging which unlocked this £1.5 million redevelopment scheme.

Our technical team, which includes some of the UK’s most experienced soil scientists, was brought in to assess the quality and potential land recycling options for the dredgings, based on in-situ core samples taken from the Marina. Analysis demonstrated that the dredgings had low levels of metals and good soil properties making them an ideal material for restoring local china clay quarries.

This extensive piece of work required us to hold wide-ranging consultations with a number of government departments including the Environment Agency, Natural England, Marine and Fisheries Authority. This was in respect to the potential for Tributyl Tin, a historic component of marine paints often found to be present in marine dredgings, and the potential effects of this compound in the terrestrial environment.

4R Environmental Consultants, with our knowledge and expertise in assessing the risks of organic compound contaminants in soil and water, ensured that safe recycling of the marine dredgings could be demonstrated. As a result, the required agreements to use the dredged material for soil creation were authorised by the Environment Agency.

Working alongside a specialist dredging contractor to manage the 32,000+ tonnes of contaminated sediment from the Falmouth Marina, we demonstrated our ability to recycle difficult waste materials into valuable products through specialist knowledge and practical solutions.

Pete Bradshaw, Managing Director of Premier Marinas said: “We just knew there had to be a better solution than landfill – and anyway, landfill tax would have meant that the project was not viable. 4R Environmental Consultants was able to find a better solution, both environmentally and economically. The project has meant that we have in some small way contributed toward the restoration of the old China Clay sites.”

As well as the initial consultancy, 4R Group was also responsible for transportation throughout the project - from the marina, to the recycling of the dredgings for use in restoring local china clay quarries.

Dr Paul Gibbs, Director of Consultancy for 4R Environmental Consultants, says, “We were delighted to be able to provide such a beneficial solution which helped both the local marine and land environments and closed the recycling loop by making good use of a material that would otherwise have ended up in landfill.”

The whole dredging project increased the size and capability of Falmouth Marina providing wider employment and tourism benefits in the South West region, whilst the recycling of the product assisted in the restoration of old China Clay sites creating natural flora and fauna on previously barren sites.


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