What happens to the materials you recycle?

Everything that we take for recycling from your kerbside recycling collections and from your recycling centres is genuinely recycled.  See our A-Z below.

For more detailed information on where we send our materials for recycling, please go to the End use register 2017-18

You may also wish to go to Recycle Now to find out what other products can be made from the materials we recycle.


End Product 

The Process 

Batteries - car
  • The plastic is recycled and made into many different products including Green Recycling boxes, furniture, paint trays, car parts, drainpipes and more cases for car batteries.
  • The lead is melted down to make products such as more car batteries, guttering, and shields for X-ray machines in hospitals.
  • The acid is treated and neutralised.
  • The distilled water is purified and used again.

Car Batteries are broken up in a huge crushing machine and then sorted into their different parts.

Batteries - household
  •  Materials recycled

The different metals are separated from the batteries and sent for recycling.

Cans and Aerosols (Aluminium)
  • Aluminium cans

The cans are sorted, compressed into bales and sent for reprocessing.  They are melted into blocks (ingots), which are then rolled into sheets and sent to can makers all over Europe.  New aluminium cans can be in the shops in only six weeks.

Cans and Aerosols (steel)
  • Cans,
  • Car parts,
  • Fridges and
  • Domestic appliances,
  • Sometimes even parts of bridges

The steel cans and aerosols are separated from the aluminium cans by magnet,  baled and sent for reprocessing. They are melted down in furnaces where the impure metal (slag) is separated and may be recycled back into road building products. The pure metal is made into blocks (ingots), which are rolled into different shapes and sizes.  

Cardboard, brown paper and drinks cartons
  • Cardboard packaging.
Cardboard, brown paper and drinks cartons are recycled separately from the paper so must not be mixed together. 
Cooking Oil (Recycling Centres only)
  • Bio diesel - to fuel specially adapted vehicles, or
  • Industrial lubricants.


Electrical items and computers (Recycling Centres only)
  • Repair and re-use, or
  • Parts re-used or recycled
Small and large electrical appliances are broken down into their component parts and either reused or recycled.
Engine Oil
  • Fuel
The oil is decanted into a large holding tank where it is boiled up and left to settle.   Any water is removed and the oil is then filtered. This process is repeated to produce a watery brown liquid that is used in furnaces at power stations and quarries as an alternative, recycled fuel.
Food Waste (kerbside collection only)
  • Compost

Composted locally using an anaerobic digestion (AD) process and is then used on farmland and to make biogas.


Fridges & Freezers (Recycling Centres only)
  • Refurbishment and re-use
  • Metal recycled

If suitable, these may be refurbished and re-used.  Otherwise, the CFCs are removed from them and the metal is recycled.

Fluorescent Tubes (Recycling Centres only)
  • Materials re-used or recycled

These are dismantled, the hazardous components removed and the other materials reused and recycled.

Foil (aluminium)
  • A range of aluminium products such as car parts.

The foil is recycled separately from the cans because it has a slightly different metal content. The process is similar to the aluminium can recycling.

Food & Drinks Cartons (Tetra-Paks)

  • Paper - new cardboard or paper
  • Plastic - furniture or fuel
  • Aluminium - aluminium products

These are pulped and then the different materials are separated. Cardboard is used to make new paper/cardboard, plastic and aluminium is used either in furniture or burnt for energy and turned into more aluminium products.

Furniture & Appliances (Recycling Centres only)
  • Repair and re-use
These are re-used where possible, for example through our furniture sales.
Gas Bottles (Recycling Centres only)
  • Re-used
  • Metal recycled

Where possible, these are taken back by their suppliers.  Otherwise the valve is removed and the metal recycled.

Garden Waste
  • Compost

The material is taken to local sites where it is shredded and put into large open air mounds called windrows, where it gradually turns into compost. 

Glass bottles and jars
  • Glass bottles and jars

Only bottles and jars are recycled as other types of glass are made of different ingredients and will leave faults in the finished product. 
The glass is crushed and each colour is melted in a separate furnace before being moulded into new glass bottles and jars for many well known brands. 

Metal (scrap)
  • Range of products such as cans
  • Bridges
  • Aeroplane parts

The metals are separated and recycled back into a wide variety of products from cans to bridges and aeroplane parts.

Mobile Phones

  • Re-used or
  • Materials recycled 

Mobile phones are sent to a charity for re-use in developing countries.  Those not suitable for re-use are shredded and their raw materials are recycled.

  •  Newspaper

Most types of paper (except  brown paper and card) are collected and made back into newsprint.

The inks, staples etc are washed out of the paper with soapy water.  This is helped by special ingredients (clays) in the magazines that help to lift the ink from the paper. 

The paper is pulped and then injected between two wire meshes to make it paper thin, before being dried.

It is then rolled into jumbo reels, each weighing more than 30 tonnes.  The paper can be back in the newsagents in as little as seven days.

Plastic packaging
  • Bollards,
  • Recycling boxes,
  • Compost bins,
  • Drainage pipes, 
  • Waste bins,
  • Park benches,
  • Food and drinks packaging and
  • Fleece jackets.

We collect most types of household plastic packaging used to package food and drinks such as tubs, trays, pots and bottles. 

There are many different types of plastic that must all be separated in order to be recycled. 

The plastic is broken down into flakes and then cleaned.  These are melted down and moulded back into plastic shapes. 

Rubble & Soil (Recycling Centres only)
  • Building materials and road aggregate
  • Soil - reused

These are recycled and used as building materials and road aggregate.  The soil is reused.

  • Landfill
  • Some limited recycling of plastic and metal
  • Landfill restoration

Some of our rubbish is sent to landfill where the organic content rots down and produces gases that contribute to climate change.

Some of our rubbish is treated by Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT), where the material is shredded, some metal and plastic content is recovered for recycling and the remaining material is made into compost for landfill restoration.

  • Re-used

These are sorted and cleaned. They are then sent to developing countries to help people who would otherwise not have access to any professional eye-care.

Televisions & Computer Monitors (Recycling Centres only)

  • Plastic, copper wiring and circuit boards and cleaned cathode ray tubes are all recycled 

These are split into their component parts ready to be sent for recycling.

The plastic casing around the TVs is bulked up and sent to a plant in the UK for recycling. The copper wiring and circuit boards are sent to the nearest reprocessor in Belgium. The cathode ray tubes (CRT) inside the TV set are cut open and cleaned to remove the toxic coatings, and then sent to a recycling plant on the continent where they are used to create new CRTs.   

Textiles and Shoes
  • Re-used

Reusable clothes and shoes are sorted then sold as second hand clothes.

It is important that all textiles are kept clean and dry so please put them out in a plastic bag.  Tie your old shoes in pairs so that they don’t get separated.

Timber (Recycling Centres only)
  • Chipboard
  • Fuel

The timber is chipped and used to make chipboard or used to fuel power stations.



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