What happens to your waste and recycling?
Mixed recycling - glass, cans, plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays
Mixed recycling is taken to a Material Recycling Facility (MRF) in Farington, where it goes through several stages of sorting before it is fully separated and ready to be sent off for a second lease of life.
Large pieces of glass go for further sorting to ensure all contamination is removed and are then sent to the UK glass remelt industry to make new glass bottles and jars. The smaller pieces of glass typically go for use in things such as road surfacing.
The different plastic and metal types are made into bales and collected by the companies that are contracted to recycle them.
The steel and aluminium go to reprocessors in the UK to make new food and drinks cans or other metal products such as cars, train tracks, bicycle frames, pipes and ship hulls.
Plastics go to reprocessing facilities where they are washed and flaked or pelletised, ready to be made back into new packaging, such as clamshell packaging, blister packs and food packaging such as salad trays. Other uses are fibre manufacture, which is used in products such as duvets and pillows or geotextiles used for reinforcement or car roof lining.
View the what happens to your waste video that has been produced by Lancashire County Council.
Paper and cardboard
Paper and card are delivered to the MRF from your home where they are baled for market without any further separation. Currently, paper and cardboard are taken to a paper mill in Manchester where it is recycled into new paper and cardboard products such as Amazon cardboard packaging.
Garden waste is taken to John Cooper Recycling in Farington where it is composted and is eventually sent to the UK retail and landscaping market.
Waste is viewed as a resource to be used. The aim is to remove as much material with value as possible. This means that your rubbish goes though a range of sorting processes that take out plastics, paper, cardboard and metals. It is still better to recycle in the first instance, but many things that have been put into the general waste bin by mistake are recovered during the sorting process.
The main resource they are looking for in your rubbish is the biodegradable element, for example, food. An important part of the technology used at the plant is the production of biogas. During the sorting process, food is removed and sent for percolation where the food is mixed with water. Anything that dissolves in the water is sent to bio-digesters, where micro-organisms break down the organic content into methane. This process is known as Anaerobic Digestion. The methane is harnessed and used to produce energy, meaning that the waste treatment is far less environmentally damaging than the alternative, which is simply to landfill your rubbish.
Once all the waste that canbe used again has been taken out the rubbish left over is shredded and sent to be composted. The process produces a compost-like soil improver called Organic Growth Media or OGM. Although the end product has been made from your rubbish, it still has its uses. The OGM can be used to cover landfill sites, or to improve the soil quality on brown field sites. It can also be used to plant trees.
Below are some recent examples of the destinations for your recycling
- paper and card - SAICA Paper UK Ltd
- glass bottles and jars - URM (UK) Ltd and Glass Recycling (UK) Ltd
- tins and cans - Alutrade Ltd and European Metal Recycling Ltd
- plastics bottles, pots, tubs and trays - Roydon Group Plc and Viridor Waste Kent Ltd
- garden waste - John Cooper Recycling Ltd
In parts of Lancashire, organic waste from the kerbside non-recyclable bins is separated out and turned into a compost-like output. This is used as infill soil on brownfield sites.
The remaining waste, which cannot be composted, is either sent for energy from waste or to landfill. In 2019/20, just under 40% of Lancashire's waste was sent to landfill.