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Where does your recycling end up?

by mikebell on 11 January, 2019

Residents work hard every year sorting their recyclable waste for collection by North Somerset Council. But where does it go? Here, Councillor Mike Bell, shared some interesting informaton about what happens to our local recycling material.

Biffa collect just over 100,000 tons of waste per annum. In 2017/2018, 99,745 tonnes of household waste was collected. 57.1% of this was sent for recycling/reuse/composting. Of the 99,745 tonnes, 31,889 was dry recyclables; 25,085 was green waste; and 42,771 was non-recyclable.

For ease of understanding: 1% of waste represents 1000 tons in absolute terms in NS.

Plastic packaging
Household plastic packaging such as bottles, pots, tubs and trays are taken to Biffa Polymer in Aldridge to specialist recycling facility. Once there, the different types of plastic are sorted using lasers and then sent on to be recycled into new plastic items, such as recycling boxes and plastic bottles.
Unfortunately, we cannot collect black plastic from your recycling box as it can’t be sorted at the recycling facility. The biggest problem with black plastic is infrared cameras cannot detect black plastic such that it’s impossible to separate it from other recyclates. We wait in anticipation for Central Government to resolve this problem.

Metal packaging
Household steel and aluminium packaging is sorted using magnets.
Aluminium waste is sent to Novelis in Warrington where it is recycled into new aluminium cans. Used aluminium cans, can be recycled, reprocessed, remade and ready for re-sale in approximately 60 days. In a year, a can could be recycled eight times, saving enough energy to make 160 new cans.
Steel tins and aerosol cans are sent to Morris Metals UK where they are recycled into new steel products. Recycled steel can be found in a huge variety of products, including bicycle frames, pipes, train tracks, ship hulls, cars, bridges and paperclips as well as new household tins and cans.

Cardboard and cartons
Cardboard and cartons are taken to DS Smith, in Kemsley and Allwards in the Vale of Glamorgan and is recycled into new cardboard packaging in 14 days.
Less than 2% will go to Biffa exports, where the end destination will be to China.
Recycling cardboard reduces the need to cut down trees. It also cuts most of the chemicals used in the treatment process and saves energy as it takes far less effort to recycle than it does to make cardboard from scratch.

Paper waste, such as newspaper, magazines, envelopes and junk mail is taken to a paper mill in Palm recycling in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. It is turned into new paper for use by the newsprint industry.

Mixed glass
Mixed glass bottles and jars are exported from Cardiff to Maltha Glass in Portugal where the crushed glass can be recycled into new glass products.

Textile waste, such as clothes and shoes, is taken to Wilcox textiles recycler in the West Midlands. The textiles are sorted and lower quality textiles are recycled into cleaning cloths and sound proofing felt for the automotive industry in the UK. Higher quality clothes are sent abroad to Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe for reuse.

Electrical items
Small electrical items are collected by Sims Recycling Solutions. Some items are disassembled and some are shredded. The different material is separated and recycled. Chemicals, such as lead, are safely disposed of.

Household batteries (AA, AAA, B, C, D) should be placed in a clear plastic bag in the recycling box to keep them together. They are sent to G & P Batteries in the West Midlands to be sorted by battery type. The sorted batteries are sent to be recycled to recover the metal and be made into new batteries.
Find out more about battery recycling on the Recycle More website.

Food waste
Food waste, collected from your food caddy, is taken to Enovert anaerobic digester in Weston-super-Mare. It is broken down by micro-organisms to produce biogas, which is used to generate electricity and heat homes.
A nutrient rich fertiliser is also produced from the recycled food waste. It is used on agricultural land as well as woodland, grassland and landfill restoration projects.
We collect around 6,500 tons of food waste per annum representing 6.5% of NSC Waste Stream.

Garden waste
Garden waste is taken to Enovert for composting. The waste is shredded, laid out in rows and turned regularly to oxygenate. After about 10 weeks it can be used as a soil improver on farmers’ fields.

Recycling centres
You can also take lots of other items to your local recycling centre including larger electrical items, wood, fridges and freezers, cooking oil, plaster board, sheets of glass, paint, tiles and ceramics.
These are sent to locations across the UK to be reprocessed and turned into something new.

   1 Comment

One Response

  1. David Roberts says:

    Good information, interesting.

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