No matter what your political persuasion, most of us get the benefits of recycling: reducing the amount of material being sent to landfill and putting valuable resources back into the world to be reused saving further energy and resources. Where the author lives in Warwickshire in the UK, we have three separate bins for household waste:
- A black bin for non-recylable waste.
- A blue top bin for anything recyclable such as paper, cardboard, glass bottles, tins, cans, plastic, foil etc.
- A grey bin for all food waste which is wrapped in newspaper and put into a green bin with all the garden waste such as grass cuttings and other garden waste.
The system seems to work efficiently. We don’t have collections every week and our concerns about bad smells and odours attracting vermin to the green bin are unfounded even with the fortnightly collections.
So having satisfied ourselves that the storage and collection parts are working pretty well, we can should ask the following questions: what happens to our household waste after collection? Where does it go?
You should ask your local authority the same question. In Warwickshire their website is thankfully very open and transparent about waste handling because Warwickshire County Council has signed up to the voluntary national initiative called the End Destinations of Recycling Charter.
By signing up to the Charter, the Council is committed to providing details of where all recyclable household material collected goes after it has been collected. Here is a list of materials and their destinations for recycling in Warwickshire:
Cardboard – Cardboard is sent on to Casepak in Leicestershire and Smurfit Kappa in the West Midlands (Judkins only) for recycling. Once free of contaminants it is sorted in to different grades, baled and stored ready for delivery for the next step in the recycling process. Cardboard you recycle typically comes back as paper bags, paperboard packaging and new cardboard boxes.
Cartons – Cartons are sent to ACE UK recycling mill in Halifax where they are baled and processed into a number of different products, ranging from plasterboard liner to high-strength paper bags and envelopes.
Foil – Aluminium foil is sent either to EMR Ltd in the West Midlands, R&C Metals in Evesham and White Metals in Coventry where it is processed and cleaned. It is then re-melted to be made into new aluminium products such as car parts. Did you know? Aluminium is 100% recyclable and can be melted down and reformed again and again and again!
Food and drink cans – Food tins and drink cans are sent either to EMR Ltd in the West Midlands, R&C Metals in Evesham and White Metals in Coventry.
Steel and aerosols are separated from the aluminium cans using a magnet. They are baled and processed by type. Aluminium items can be recycled indefinitely, and quickly back into their original form. Steel can also be recycled time and time again without loss of quality. Once processed new steel products such as bikes, cars, bridges, paperclips are made as well as new food and drink cans.
Glass – Glass is sent to Berryman Glass Recycling processing facilities in Yorkshire. Different colours of glass are separated using lasers. It is crushed to become ‘glass cullet’. Any contaminants such as paper and metal are removed. The ‘cullet’ is mixed with raw materials and melted in a furnace. The molten liquid is moulded or blown into new glass bottles and jars.
Garden waste – Garden waste from the Household Waste and Recycling Centres is taken to open air composting facilities where compost can be produced in less than 8 weeks. The waste is piled into long rows (windrows) which are turned regularly to provide the perfect conditions for the rapid production of nutrient rich compost. The end produce is used by both farmers and Warwickshire home owners. Garden waste that is collected (alongside food waste) from your kerbside collection is taken to one of two special In-Vessel Composting plants in either Ufton or Daventry where it is mixed and shredded and then composted at temperatures above 70 degrees centigrade to speed up the process and kill any harmful bacteria. When finished it is screened and used on local farmland.
Hard plastic – Hard plastics are sent either to CO2G in Wednesbury or EMR Ltd in the West Midlands (Judkins only) for plastic re-processing. The plastic is sorted and recycled into lots of new plastic products such as pipes, garden tables and office stationary.
Household waste – Items that are deposited in the household waste bins are either sent to landfill at Bubbenhall or Ling Hall in Warwickshire or sent to Energy Waste Facilities run by Veolia in Staffordshire or CSWD In Coventry. To combat the cost of disposal Warwickshire is now sending more household waste to Energy from Waste than Landfill.
What is Energy from Waste?
Energy from Waste is a technology that burns household waste at high temperatures under carefully controlled conditions to produce electricity which is mostly fed into the National Grid.
Paper – Paper is sent to Casepak Ltd in Leicestershire to be sorted, heated and pulped ready to be re-made into new recycled paper products. Paper can be recycled into numerous products such as egg cartons, paper plates, construction paper, phone books or even cat litter.
Soft Plastic – Mixed soft plastics (including bottles, tubs, pots and trays) are separated at Pure Recycling in Ettington and sorted into different plastic types to be recycled into new plastic products such as bottles, packaging, traffic cones, fleece clothing, and even carpet.
Did you know? – Recycling one plastic bottle saves the same amount of energy needed to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours!
Waste at the recycling centres Warwickshire
Here is what happens to waste taken to a recycling centre:
Batteries – Batteries are sent to G&P batteries in the West Midlands to be treated and make safe. They are dismantled into component parts and separated for recycling into new products. Approximately 60% of the material from the old batteries is recycled.
Car batteries – Car batteries are sent onto Duston Oils in Northamptonshire for processing where the lead and plastic is separated and the battery acid made safe. The car battery you recycle will typically be used to make more car batteries.
Carpets – Carpet not suitable for reuse is sent on to Roade Fibres Ltd in Northamptonshire who recycle it to make high quality surfaces for equestrian arenas and racetracks.
Clothes and shoes – Clothes, textiles and shoes are taken to Wilcox Textile Reclaimers. They are a family owned group involved in the reclamation, processing and export of fine quality clothing to Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. They work with charities, local authorities and waste reclamation companies and have developed new systems using a robot controlled automatic sorting system. Wilcox collect around 26 million kilograms of textiles per year and around 90% of all products are exported. Those products that cannot be exported because of weight or style or damage remain in the UK to be used for their range of cleaning cloths and felt materials for Automotive sound proofing. In Warwickshire 10% of all proceeds from your donated clothes, textiles and shoes goes to Guide Dogs to the Blind Charity.
TVs and monitors – TV and monitors are taken to EWRG in Huddersfield. Those suitable for reuse are tested and sold on. Those not suitable for reuse are broken down into their component parts for recycling. Glass in the screens can be reused in the manufacture of new televisions and monitors. Other materials such as ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals are recovered for recycling too.
Wood – Wood from Hunters Lane goes to Welland.
See the full list here: Where does my waste go in Warwickshire?