What Happens to My Recycling

Ever wondered what happens to your recycling once you have deposited it at your local recycling centre? The table below shows what happens to each of the material types that are accepted at the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) in Suffolk. 

Car Batteries

CAR BATTERIES
Car batteries are processed carefully to make them safe due to the hazardous acid contained inside. Once treated to make safe, they are dismantled and component parts are separated for recycling into new products.

Cardboard

CARDBOARD
Clean cardboard is made into bales which are then sold directly to end users who make it into new recycled cardboard products. It is important that no other materials (e.g. packaging materials like polystyrene and bubblewrap) are put in the cardboard container as this could lead to the bales being 'contaminated' and rejected by the end users.

Cooking Oil

COOKING OIL
Used cooking oil is processed within Suffolk using a settling technique which separates the good oil from heavy oils and contamination. The purified oil can then be used directly as a biofuel in commercial heating generators which is a greener alternative to fossil fuels. The heavy oil is also recycled through a different process.

Batteries

DOMESTIC BATTERIES
Domestic batteries are separated into different types. They have to be stored carefully due to the risk of fire. They are then sent on to an end processor where they again have to be processed carefully, ensuring safety due to the hazardous acid contained inside. Once treated to make safe, they are dismantled and component parts are separated for recycling into new products.

Engine Oil

ENGINE OIL
Used engine oil is purified and processed into fuel.

 Clear Glass

 

GLASS BOTTLES/JARS & FLAT GLASS
Glass is an important material when it comes to recycling because it is one of the few substances which can benefit from ‘closed loop recycling’. When recycled, glass returns to the same composition and structure as when it was first manufactured. This means that the glass can be recycled over and over and still retain the same high quality.

At our processors, the glass goes through a process of cleaning and sorting, including a laser which separates different types and colours of glass. The laser identifies if the piece of glass is in the correct section, if so, it lets the glass fall into the next stage, if a piece of coloured glass is found in the clear for example, the laser will see this, measure the size of the piece and then blow the appropriate strength gust of air in a targeted direction. As the offending piece of glass falls, it is caught by the gust and blown into a separate section. This process can only do this to a certain amount of pieces at a time, which is why it is important the glass is separated carefully into clear and mixed glass on site. This approach is more effective at separating the glass leading to a purer product being generated.  Any loads that are pure enough (approx 90% of loads) go across a conveyor into the glass smelters next door to be made into new glass product. Any loads that have not achieved enough separation or have too much contamination are used for aggregate in the construction industry (approx 10% of loads).

Sheet glass is now collected separately on site.

Green

GARDEN (GREEN) WASTE
This includes off cuts from your garden such as grass, plant and hedge cuttings. We can accept twigs and branches, but any wood products such as furniture go in a separate container. Soil is also collected separately. We do not accept food waste.

Green waste goes to one of a number of processors who will compost it into soil improver. Soil improver is sold at the HWRCs for £2.00 a bag.


Hardcore & Core

SOIL & HARDCORE
These two materials are separated by our processor. The soil is then recycled and often used as topsoil when capping off and landscaping landfill sites. The hardcore will be broken down and used as aggregate in the construction industry, often in road building.

This type of material is not classified as ‘household waste’. Waste produced through DIY building and home improvement activities is classified as ‘construction and demolition’ waste. There is therefore no obligation for it to be accepted at the HWRCs, but as a compromise you can pay a small charge to dispose of soil and hardcore at site.

Ink Cartridges

INK CARTRIDGES
These are collected alongside mobile phones. At our processors the cartridges are separated into those that are reusable and those that are not. Those that are suitable for reuse are refilled and resold into the market. Those not suitable are broken down into their component parts for recycling.

Metals

METAL
Metals are taken away by our local processors who will separate the different types of metals and sell them to be made into new recycled metal products. Some items which are not all metal, but have a high metal content, can also go in the metal container. If unsure, please take advice from site staff.

Recycling metals not only saves natural resources and avoids the destruction associated with mining, but it also saves a vast amount of energy in comparison to using raw material. As an example, it takes the same amount of energy to make twenty cans from recycled aluminium as it does to make one from virgin aluminium; this is due to the amount of energy associated with separating pure aluminium from aluminium ore (rock that contains aluminium)


Media Items

MEDIA ITEMS
The mixed media banks are for books, DVDs, CDs and games.

80% are books of which 1% are resold in the UK.
59% of books are exported to Africa for education services.
40% is waste paper/card and is sent for pulping in the UK.

10% are CD/DVDs videos and games.
20% of each are for resale in the UK.
40% are plastic for recycling in the UK.

Note: Unfortunately we're currently unable to recycle videotapes, so you would need to dispose of these in the residual bin

Mobile Phones

MOBILE PHONES
These are collected alongside ink cartridges. At our processors phones are separated into those that are reusable and those that are not. Those that are suitable for reuse are resold into the market. Those not suitable are broken down into their component parts for recycling.


Paper

PAPER
Clean paper is made into bales which are then sold directly to end processors who make it into new recycled paper products. It is important that no other materials (e.g. plastic sleeves from around magazines) are put in the cardboard container as this will contaminate the bales and they could be rejected by end processors.


Plasterboard

PLASTERBOARD
Plasterboard is made of Gypsum plaster powder, sandwiched between paper (the paper on the outside is recycled into new paper products) Gypsum is an important material to capture for recycling because low concentrations are valuable within the soil for farming, but high concentrations are a pollutant. For this reason, legislation now does not allow plasterboard to be landfilled with the other waste, because of this plasterboard is only accepted at the Bury St Edmunds, Foxhall, Lowestoft and Stowmarket sites. The Gypsum from plasterboard collected at the HWRCs is recycled either into new plasterboard or used in agriculture on the land.

This type of material is not classified as ‘household waste’. Waste produced through DIY building and home improvement activities is classified as ‘construction and demolition’ waste. There is therefore no obligation for it to be accepted at the HWRCs, but as a compromise you can pay a small charge to dispose of plasterboard at site.

Rigid Plastics

RIGID PLASTICS (furniture + toys)
Rigid plastics are sent to our processor who bails the materials and sells them into the market for new recycled products. Plastic products can be made from a number of different polymers, which at the next stage are separated out as they require different processing for recycling. Their uses and final products therefore vary. However as an example some types of hard plastics can be recycled and used in car bumper manufacture.

Soft Plastics

SOFT PLASTICS (plastic bottles, tubs + pots)
Soft plastics are sent to our processor who bales the materials and sells them into the market for new recycled products. Plastic products can be made from a number of different polymers, which at the next stage are separated out as they require different processing for recycling. Their uses and final products therefore vary. However as an example around 25 plastic drinks bottles can be turned into a fleece jacket.


Plastic Bags & Film

PLASTIC BAGS + FILM
Plastic bags are sent to our processor who bails the materials and sells them into the market for new recycled products.

Carton/ Tetra Pak

DRINKS CARTONS/TETRA PAK
These are sent to a specialist processing facility in Europe where the waxed cartons are separated into the paper, plastic and metals from which they are made up. These are then recycled separately into new recycled products.


Textiles

TEXTILES
Textiles include items such as curtains and blankets as well as clothes and shoes. These go to our processor, who sorts them into different types and grades of products. After sorting, around 60% of clothing gets reused by being sent to Africa, around 20% of textiles are made into disaster blankets for use in India, and others are trimmed to be used as industrial wipers. Considering the range of items collected in this material stream, it is fantastic that only 1% comes out at the other end of the process as waste.

TVs/ CRTs

WEEE – TVs/ CRTs
These are taken to our processor and tested for safety. Those suitable for reuse are tested and sold on. Those not suitable for reuse are broken down into their component parts for recycling. Through this process, they are treating the material for the hazardous elements contained within. 


Small domestic appliances

WEEE – SMALL DOMESTIC APPLIANCES
This category includes items such as vacuum cleaners, irons and hairdryers amongst many others. If you are unsure about where to place your items, please ask a member of staff. These are taken to our processor and tested for safety and suitability for reuse. Those not suitable for reuse are broken down into their component parts for recycling.


Large Domestic Appliances

WEEE – LARGE DOMESTIC APPLIANCES
These include items such as cookers and ovens etc. These are taken to our local processors where they are broken down into component parts for recycling (mainly metals), then sold into the market for new recycled products. 


Fluorescent Tubes & Low Energy Bulbs

WEEE – FLUORESCENT TUBES & LOW ENERGY BULBS
These are collected by our processor who separates out the metal and the glass and removes the hazardous gases to make safe. The metal and glass is then recycled into new glass products. 

Fridges & Freezers

WEEE – FRIDGES & FREEZERS
These are sent on to our processors where they are treated for hazardous gases, they are then broken down into their component parts (mainly plastic and metals) which are sold into the market for new recycled products. 


Wood

WOOD
Wood is collected and sent to our processor where some may be suitable to be used in chipboard, but the majority is used for animal bedding.