Ever wondered where your recycling ends up after you place it in your recycling bin? Well, we have the answers, from cans and tins to furniture and lightbulbs, we can tell you exactly where your recycling will end up and in some cases what it is recycled into.
First and foremost, your recycling is collected by local authorities in north London. Dry recyclables such as plastic, metal, paper and glass are collected from households and sorted locally at the Biffa Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Edmonton, Enfield.
Biffa sorts each different material and then sends it to reprocessors who will recycle it into something new. Below are some of the most popular recyclable materials and where they go to be processed:
Cans and Tins
Metal tins and cans are sorted into steel and aluminium through magnetic selection and sent to the below areas in the UK to be melted down into new products:
- South Yorkshire
- West Glamorgan
Card that is collected from north London households and through our reuse and recycling centres is processed abroad. The material is sorted at the MRF but then sent for processing in Germany, Taiwan, and Turkey, where it’s recycled into new card.
Food waste is sent to two Anaerobic Digestion facilities in Hertfordshire. Anaerobic Digestion is a process that uses bacteria to break down the food waste in specialist containers called silos. Gases that are produced through this process are captured and then burnt to produce electricity. The process also creates a nutrient-rich liquid fertilizer that is used on local farms.
Where possible furniture is reused. The brilliant staff at our ‘Second Time Around’ shop, located at our Kings Road RRC, inspect and test the furniture to check it can be reused. If the furniture is unsuitable for reuse it is recycled where possible.
Green garden waste is delivered to In-Vessel Composting sites in Cambridgeshire and London. The in-vessel composting process involves different stages. First, the waste is enclosed and begins to decompose. Following that, the decomposing material goes through a process called open windrow composting. This involves the material being piled in the open air in rows, where it is occasionally turned, to allow heat and moisture to mix through and decompose into compost. The compost is then collected for use at local farms and horticultural settings.
Glass bottles and jars
Glass is processed both in the UK and abroad. All your recyclable materials collected at your kerbside is sorted in MRF in London. Glass is separated from other recyclable materials and sent to facilities in the UK and Europe (Hertfordshire, Essex, Pontefract, Brentford, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and abroad in Belgium and Portugal). Once there it is processed into glass cullet, or pellets and the final product is either used for bottle manufacturing or for aggregate in road construction.
Paper collected from north London households and our RRCs is processed in the UK and abroad. The material is sorted at the MRF and sent to mills for reprocessing both in Kent, Flintshire, Hertfordshire and abroad (Germany and France). It is recycled into new paper and card.
Plastics are separated from your other recyclables at a facility in London and sorted into different plastic types, including plastic bottles and mixed plastics, such as pots and trays. They are then sent onto a facility in Northamptonshire for remanufacturing - they are washed and chipped to create plastic pellets which can be remade into new plastic bottles.
The other mixed plastics are sent to specialised sorting facilities in Seaham, Lincolnshire, and Walsall for further separation by polymer type, before being reprocessed into new products.
To learn more about where your recycling goes and to see household products like lightbulbs, TVs, monitors and more, click here for more recycling destinations.