Recycling collection crew looking like superheroes with Collection Crew logo

Together We Recycle

Ever wondered what happens to your recycling after you’ve put it out? In our new campaign, we’re shining a light on the hard work of north London’s recycling crew, our household heroes. We want to tell you a bit more about them and the work they do.

Meet your local crew

Six recycling collection crews, and a group of sorting staff at the Materials Recycling Facility, kindly let us take their photographs and find out more about them. We used the photos and information to make outdoor advertisements and leaflets which we're sending out to the houses on their collection round. Here are some of the crews below.

How you can help your crew

Help your household heroes by placing the right materials in the recycling bins. Remember not to dump rubbish in the recycling and to empty and rinse all containers before putting them in the bin.

Here are the things you can recycle at home:

If you're not sure what to do with your rubbish, check the A-Z waste search

What happens to your recycling?

Once the Collection Crew has picked up your recycling from your households, it gets taken to Biffa's Materials Recycling Facility (also known as a Materials Recovery Facility or MRF) in Enfield. There, it is met by the next heroes in the process, the Sorting Squad.

Three people who work at Biffa recycling facility dressed in high vis equipment, standing in a powerful pose like superheroes

The recycling goes on conveyor belts where the sorting process begins. The Squad keep an eye on the conveyor belts to make sure there is no rubbish in the recycling, and removes any they spot. The mixed recyclables are then separated into various materials, both by hand and by machine.

After sorting, the materials are taken to reprocessors – places like paper mills or plastics recycling plants – where they are recycled and made into something new, like jars, paper, cans or packaging.

This video shows the process used for sorting north London's recycling at the MRF.


Where does your recycling end up?

Once we've sorted the recycling, it is sold to companies that want to use it to make something new. For example:

  • Cans are recycled, filled and back on the shelf again in just six weeks.
  • Tins can be used to make train tacks, cars, or even paperclips.
  • Plastic could be turned into packaging again, or even car bumpers, drainage pipes or flower pots.
  • Glass gets turned into glass bottles and jars again.
  • Paper and cardboard could become paper and cardboard again.

All metal, plastic, glass, and most of the paper and cartons, stay in the UK. You can visit our Where does my recycling go (opens in a new window) page to see exactly where all the materials go.

Why we're running the campaign

In our Waste Prevention Plan (opens in a new window), we said we would run a behaviour change campaign to encourage north Londoners to recycle more and better. The result is our flagship campaign, Together We Recycle.

The campaign aims to uncover the human side of the recycling crew, by putting a face to the people who collect and sort our recycling and telling residents about their personal story and commitment to the job. With climate change becoming more and more present in our everyday lives, we want to highlight the importance of 'doing your bit' and mobilise the community to take responsibility for recycling at home.

The Together We Recycle advertisements have been publicised on bus stops, billboards and on social media. We have also produced individual leaflets for each crew which were sent to households in their area. 

What makes this campaign unique is that it shows real north London recycling crew loaders, drivers and sorting staff at work sharing their own words about what it means to them to reduce waste, recycle well and protect our resources. The cinematic style of the photography, which was all taken 'on the job' in the crew's respective boroughs, paints the crew as 'household heroes' with the admirable superpower of keeping our boroughs green and helping create a circular economy.

Published date
28 August 2023