What happens to recycling and waste
We recycle about half of the waste collected from your home.
The recycling collected from your recycling bin is taken to a Material Recycling Facility (MRF).
At the MRF, all the mixed recycling is sorted and separated into different types of materials by hand and machine, before being sent to manufacturers who make it into new products.
There are many recycling plants in the UK processing millions of tonnes of material every year. All of the newsprint manufactured here in the UK is now made from 100% recycled paper and over 80% of the glass collected for recycling is used in the UK - the majority of it to make new glass bottles and jars.
Garden waste collected is taken for industrial-scale composting and used locally in agriculture as a soil conditioner and for horticulture.
The organic waste is shredded, mixed and placed into rows which are turned on a regular basis to improve oxygen content, distribute heat and moisture. The rows are turned multiple times during the composting process, which takes on average 16 weeks.
The compost is then screened to remove contaminants such as plastics and metals.
The majority of your refuse is taken to local transfer stations for bulking before being transported to a Mechanical Biological Treatment site (MBT) at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire.
The waste is machine sorted in a plant where recyclable items such as metals and plastics are removed. These items are sent for recycling but they are a very low grade as they have been mixed with general waste.
The residue which is left after recyclables have been removed is moved to a composting hall. The hall is 75m wide by 200m long and the compost is 3m deep. The residue is processed using air channels and irrigated rain water collected from the roof. It takes 7 weeks to move from one side of the hall to the other, and the end product is a compost-like material which is currently put into a landfill on site. There are plans to use this product as a fuel in the future.
This process reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill by 40 to 45%.
Last updated 19 February 2024