What happens to recycling?

What happens to recycling?

Blue bin, blue box and blue bag collections

The material you separate is collected by Serco Limited and taken to their depot at Longcliffe. It is stored in bays before being bulked into container wagons to be transported to the re-processors:

The materials are separated into their separate streams for reprocessing.


HW Martins target with optical sorting technology both PET and HDPE (Symbols 1 and 2), the remaining mix of plastics goes into the PTTs (Pots, Tubs and Trays) which is predominantly V, LDPE and PP (Symbols 3, 4 and 5) are all reprocessed elsewhere.

HW Martins receive PS (Symbol 6) at their Alfreton facility but this is predominantly delivered into the site as a segregated hard plastic waste stream and is then bulked out to be reprocessed elsewhere.

HW Martins do not target the ‘others’ (Symbol 7) at their Alfreton facility. However if this material is identified, this would be waste for treatment (EfW) Energy from Waste.

PET Plastics (Symbol 1) are taken to a UK Manufacturer where they are melted down into pellets then put into a process that goes back into food grade manufacturing of plastics.

HDPE Plastics (symbol 2) are taken to a processing plant in Leeds, where they separate polymers by type to produce pellets / flakes which are sold to companies for remanufacturing. A significant amount of this plastic is used for making underground water / sewage pipes.

Pots, Tubs & Trays (Symbols 3, 4 and 5) are segregated out before being sent to processors in the UK or Europe before being used in plastics grades products.

Hard Plastics (Symbol 6) – sent to a processing site in Selby before being sent to Holland to be used in plastics grades products.

Other Plastics (Symbol 7) are taken to an Energy from Waste Plant (EfW). An EfW is a facility where non-recyclable waste is burned, with the resulting steam powering a turbine, which generates electricity


The mixed glass and jars, food and drinks cans, aerosols, aluminium and foil trays, beverage cartons and plastics are taken to a materials recovery facility – HW Martins in Alfreton.

Glass above 10mm is processed for re-melt into new glass containers and any glass under 10mm is processed for re-melt into water filtration systems, shot blast medium and fibre glass products.

Cans and foil

Steel cans are taken to a processing plant in Doncaster where they are baled and sent to steel works in the UK to be made into new steel ingots.

Aluminium cans and Aerosols (high grade) are taken to a processing plant in Warrington where it is melted and turned into plate rolls for the car and automotive industry.

Aluminium Foil Trays (low grade) are taken to a local metal merchant and melted into aluminium ingots and used in items such as window frames.

Beverage cartons

Beverage cartons are mixed in with cardboard at HW Martins for recycling.

Paper and cardboard

The paper and cardboard is taken to UPM, Deeside.

The material is split into 3 grades of recycled material. News (Newspaper) and PaM (paper and magazines), Old corrugated containers (OCC) and leftover residue.

News and PaM is recycled by UPM Hürth paper mill, in Germany. This mill has one of the most modern paper machines in Europe, which produces newsprint from 100% recovered paper.

OCC (Old corrugated containers) is processed at one of 3 mills in the UK and is turned into new cardboard boxes. This is an example of a closed-loop recycling process which guarantees cardboard is never sent to landfill or used as waste for energy.

The residue waste is sent for incineration through Lancashire Waste.

Garden waste

The material you separate out of your gardens, is collected on behalf of the District Council by Serco Limited and taken to one of two sites: Biffa in Etwall, Derby or Suez in Waterswallows, Buxton. At these sites, Garden Waste is subject to a process of In Vessel Composting to create compost and soil improvers.

In vessel composting

Incoming garden waste is sorted, shredded to achieve a maximum particle size, mixed to achieve the correct “recipe,” and then loaded into composting tunnels.

Air is drawn through the feedstock with the rate of air flow being controlled to ensure an optimum treatment temperature.

Following the completion of an initial composting period (which can be up to 2 days), the material is removed from the tunnel, remixed and returned to another tunnel for the composting process to be completed.

The treated material is then stored for a period of 4 to 10 weeks to enable final maturation to occur, whereupon the product is screened and sieved to remove any remaining contaminants, like bits of plastic.

The end product is used for restoration, landscaping and agriculture.

Food waste

The material you dispose of in your kerbside 23 litre food caddies is collected on behalf of the District Council by Serco Limited and taken to a Severn Trent Green Power site in Derby. The food waste is subject to a process known as Anaerobic Digestion to produce renewable energy and a nutrient rich fertiliser.

Anaerobic digestion

Food waste is separated from packaging by mechanical processing and macerated to less than 12mm in particle size, liquid waste such as fats and oils are then added to create a substrate known as ‘food soup’.

This substrate is pumped into large digestion tanks where it is heated to body temperature, it is then digested by bacteria and begins to breakdown.

As it breaks down a gas is given off, which is captured and through engines on site to create renewable energy in the form of heat and electricity.

The food soup remains in the system for 80-90 days, in this time energy is released and spent which leaves you with a nutritious fertiliser or ‘digestate’. After a period of pasteurisation at 70⁰C to remove any microbiological hazards this digestate (fertiliser) can be sent and spread back to land/used in agriculture.

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