Who do your council sell their recycling to?

Filed in Blog by on September 9, 2008 33 Comments
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write a letter to your council to ask about recycling
Following last night’s TV programme on ITV1 – A Rubbish Service, it has highlighted a need for transparency from Local Authorities.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for new regulations to govern recycling and has written to every council leader in England and Wales to stress the importance of having detailed information about where recycled items are sold.
But we, as householders need to do the same. There are already 5 visitors to this site who have said that have written this morning to their council, so we’ve opened this thread for you to share any replies. If you feel comfortable to do so, then please list which council you have received your response from.

Here is a sample letter, but feel free to adapt this to your local council or better still write your own words!

Dear Sir,

Following last night’s ITV1 programme “A Rubbish Service” I am concerned about what happens to my recycling.

As a conscientious householder I sort my recycling as advised each week / fortnight. However, it was revealed in this programme last night that 35% of local authorities could not provide names and details of who they sell their recycling to.

In addition, I have visited my local civic ammenity site and see lots of people carefully sorting their recyclables. I would like to know what happens to these materials too.

The programme revealed disturbing scenes of UK rubbish being exported illegally to India and I would like to know for sure what happens to the things I recycle in my area.

Yours faithfully,

You can find details of your local council on the Direct Gov site.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (33)

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  1. maisie says:

    Brilliant Mrs Green,

    I have already had an “automated response” saying my email will be passed to tthe correct person, so we shall see how long it takes for the proper reply.

    My local Council is East Lindsey District and my County is Lincolnshire County.

  2. Emailed both council and my MP with this – I’ll pop back with replies if I get any.

  3. Oh and blogged it too…

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Well, this couldn’t be better timing. I wrote to my council two weeks ago, heard no response, wrote again and it turns out that there is a new recycling officer; hence the time it took for a reply.

    This is from the Forest of Dean council. To find out what happens to recyclates collected at my civic amenity site, I need to contact Gloucestershire, which I’ll do later in the week.

    Having said that, virtually all our recycling here at Chez Green is collected from kerbside or we take to local bring banks – which is what the answers below refer to. I have to say I’m giving a hearty 12/10 for quality of information given to my queries:

    We collect paper, glass bottles and cans from the kerbside and we have recycling banks at 38 locations across the district where other materials can be recycled such as plastic bottles, cardboard, foil, cartons and textiles. We do not collect materials that cannot be recycled in this country. Listed below are the details of what happens to each commodity.

    > Paper – This is collected and sent to Aylesford Newsprint in Kent where it is recycled for the Newsprint industry. Visit their website at http://www.aylesford-newsprint.co.uk

    > Cardboard – This is sent to Severnside Waste where the cardboard is pulped for the making of new paper which is used to make new cardboard boxes. Visit their website at http://www.severnside.com

    > Plastic bottles – These are baled and sent to JFC Delleve, a reprocessing facility based in St Helens. This is the UK’s most sophisticated reprocessing plant for plastic bottles with an automatic sorting system based on infra-red technology that can separate the bottles by polymer type and colour. The plastics are then recycled based on type. Visit their website at http://www.jfcuk.com

    > Milk bottles (HDPE) – to be used in the making of high quality underground Pipes for gas/water etc, waste wheelie bins and recycling bins, carrier bags

    > Clear PET – drinks bottles usually. Made into fibre, which is used to make clothing (fleeces) and carpets

    > Coloured PET – e.g. shampoo/detergent bottles. Used for pallet strapping and coloured fibre for carpet and clothing manufacture. (Clear PET can be made into any colour whereas mixed coloured PET makes black)
    > Glass bottles – All bottles are sent to Berrymans in Yorkshire. Glass is made into new glass products e.g. bottles, jars etc or used in road aggregate. http://www.berryman-uk.co.uk

    > Cans – These are sorted into aluminium or steel. The steel goes to Corus in South Wales who turn these into raw steel for use in many applications. Aluminium goes to Novellis in Warrington and these are used for engine parts. http://www.novelisrecycling.co.uk

    > Aluminium foil – This is sent to Fairtide in Lydney where they compact and bale it and sell on to Avon Metals in Gloucester where it is melted back down into ingots, which will often end up in new car engine blocks. http://www.lydney.org.uk/project_fairtide_recycling.shtml

    > Textiles – Textiles are sent to BCR Global. They send the best clothes for reuse in this country or abroad. The rest are used for rags for industry, or shredded and recycled. http://www.bcrglobaltextiles.com

    > Paper based liquid food and drinks cartons – These are collected by Recresco Ltd and taken to their depot in Kirkby in Ashfield on behalf of Tetrapak. The cartons are recycled into a number of different products, ranging from plasterboard liner to high-strength paper bags and envelopes. http://www.tetrapakrecycling.co.uk

  5. Hi Mrs Green,

    That is a thorough, and reassuring, explanation of current practice in your area. Such information by all councils will help allay public anxiety about the value of their recycling effort. Any council not in this category should still come forward with full details. This should not be a blame game but should lead to changes in the poorest performing areas.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Great idea to email your MP too Sarah – I never thought of that. And good luck with your responses Maisie.

    John, I did feel reassured, I have to say. It got me back in the driving seat again and ready to continue the zero waste journey 🙂

    I will be gradually going through all the links and checking them out.

  7. I email him about loads of things, and I always get a reply. Quite how much good it does I’m not sure but someone replies for him at least.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Well, a big hearty Happy Bunny dance from me today. I’ve just heard about where Gloucestershire send our recyclates from the two civic amenities sites.
    I have to say I am **very** impressed – I didn’t even write to them; they contacted me after reading this site, so I’m delighted that they have shared their knowledge with us and have put my mind at rest.
    I’m pleased to see that some of the materials go to local companies too.

    * Asbestos – Smiths Gloucester, buried at Hills in an asbestos cell

    * Aluminium Foil – Collected from Hempstead & Wingmoor, goes to Avon Metals, Gloucester and smelted down into 2nd grade aluminium for manufacturing

    * Batteries (Automotive & Household) Remax Recycling Ltd, Tredegar, lead is smelted down, plastic is granulated for reuse and the acid is stored and treated under EA Wales regulations

    * Books – British Heart Foundation, Cheltenham, distributed for resale across the region

    * Bric-a-brac – W H Papps Recycling, T Webb & E Kilpatrick, non electrical items go to auction in Mitcheldean and other items are distributed to second hand shops

    * Cans – steel cans are sent to Corus and melted into steel coil, Aluminium cans go to Novelis and are melted down to make new cans

    * Cardboard – material is sent to St Regis Paper Mill, Devon, Kappa Manufacturing, Birmingham & Sonoco, Halifax to make new cardboard & packaging

    * Tetra Packs – Thamesdown Recycling, Cricklade, the material is baled and exported to Sweden where it is processed into plasterboard for Lafarge Industries

    * Chemicals – Chemtech Dudley

    * Cooking Oil – C & D Oil Ltd, Newport, the water is separated and the oil is processed and sold back to the fuel industry

    * Ferrous Metal – Sims Group UK, Cinderford material is returned to the steel and foundry industry

    * Gas Bottles – Envik Waste, Bridgend the bottles are returned to the manufacturers who inspect & refill the bottles for redistribution

    * General Waste – Cory Environmental, landfilled as non-recyclable waste with methane being captured and used to generate electricity

    * Glass (All Colours) – Berrymans, Yorkshire or Rockware for processing into glass products with some being ground into aggregate products which is used in tarmac

    * Green Waste – Cory Environmental, windrow composted on site and used for final restoration of the landfill site

    * Mobile Phones – Recyclaphone, Ledbury

    * Non Ferrous Metals – W H Papps Recycling & Sims Group UK materials are sold to refiners and smelters in the UK and worldwide

    * Paper – Abbertibery, Elsmere Port or Aylesford Newsprint, Kent processed to make new printing paper

    * Plastic Bottles – AWS Lincolnshire, Valpak Preston & Deleve St Helens, materials are processed to make petlon products, new bottles, food containers or ducting pipe for underground services

    * Rubble & Hardcore – collected by Hills Waste, Grundons and Phelps Services, the material is crushed and sold as capping material, hardcore for agricultural use or to make access roads on the landfill

    * Soil – Grundons & Phelps Services, material is used for restoration of the landfill or screened and used for agricultural use.

    * Textiles – Salvation Army or JMP Wilcox, sold through their network of shops or 90% is exported and sold in Africa, Asia or Eastern Europe the other 10% is turned into cleaning cloths for industrial use.

    * Tyres – Fraser Evans, Whitney – tyres are shredded and used for cell preparation on landfill sites

    * Waste Oil – West Oils, Gloucester 90% of the reclaimed oil is recycled

    * WEEE – Sims Group UK, CF Logistics Swindon – Materials are broken down into component parts with metals being returned to steel works, hazardous materials being sent to a hazardous waste site, fragmentised glass from TV’s goes to Samsung Corning, copper and printed circuit boards are smelted back into copper ingots

    * Wood – Krona Span North Wales, materials are shredded and remanufactured into laminated worktops

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Oops, I stand corrected. There are FIVE civic amenity sites in Gloucestershire, not just two. These are:
    * Oak Quarry Coleford
    * Hempsted, Gloucester
    * Wingmoor Farm, Bishops Cleeve
    * Fosse Cross, Cotswolds
    * Pyke Quarry, Stroud

    Thank you for the correction, Mrs Gloucestershire Waste Projects officer 🙂

  10. spidermonkey says:

    hello! This is the reply from my council about recycling:

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    Each separate material is sent to a different reprocessor for recycling.

    For the Black Box:
    Paper is sent to Aylesford Newsprint in Kent, where it is made into paper for
    printing newspapers (including the CEN)
    Cans are sent to Pearsons in Thetford where they are sorted into steel and
    aluminium and crushed into ‘biscuits’. The biscuits are sold on to
    Glass is sent to O-I Glass (Owens of Illinois, formerly British Glass) in
    Harlow, where it is crushed, melted and re-formed into bottles.

    For the Blue Box:
    Plastic bottles are sent to Donarbon near Waterbeach where they are squashed
    into bales before being transported to a sorting facility in Lincolnshire. The
    sorted bottles are shredded and made into pellets which are supplied to

    The waste from your green bin, as you may know, also goes up to Donarbon where
    it is composted to produce soil conditioner which is sold to local farms such
    as Chilford Hall.

    We have put information about where our recycling goes to in Cambridge Matters
    magazine over the last few years. The current issue has information about where
    the Black Box materials go to. It is a good idea to contact the local press as
    well in light of the recent ITV programme, so thank you for suggesting that. We
    will also make the information clearer on our website – there is currently
    information in the Cambridge Matters archive of previous issues, but we will
    make sure it also goes on a dedicated page.

  11. This is all great stuff. I followed it up yesterday and had the pleasure of getting a phone call from the director of environmental services…but guess what…I was out! So I’ve got to phone him back. So typical.

    I didn’t realise that Spider Monkey was in Cambridge, not far away from me in Bury St Edmunds.

    If you’re looking in Spidermonkey, have you been to the Donarbon Resource Park? It looks very impressive.

  12. Kris says:

    Brilliant, very heartening information. Thank you for all the breakdown of where it goes – especially for Wingmoor as that’s one of the local places I use.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    Hi spidermonkey – that’s great info; thank you for sharing it here. I’m hoping this page can become a really useful and informative resource for people if enough people share their news.

    Mrs A, I look forward to hearing your results soon 🙂

  14. I got an answer! It’s on my blog…

  15. Mrs Green says:

    I didn’t see it Sarah – can you copy and paste it here as well?

  16. Umm, I can but it’s HUGE… Brace yourselves….


    Multi Material Kerbside Collections

    Material Collector Route Final use & Destination
    Glass Bottles and Jars Ward Recycling under contract to ABITIBI Recycling Europe (ABRE) Clay cross transfer station-
    Ardagh Glass Ltd in South Yorkshire – made into more glass bottles and jars If the glass collected is surplus to requirements in the UK then some may be exported to Spain, France, and Italy to be reprocessed into green wine bottles. Some mixed glass is used in aggregate
    Newspapers and Magazines Ward Recycling under contract to ABRE WRL Clay cross transfer station-
    Bridgewater Paper Ltd in Ellesmere Port used to make newsprint.
    Tins and cans
    Ward Recycling under contract to ABRE Clay cross transfer station- then to WRL Middlesborough for sorting then steel to T.J. Thompsons Stockton – on – Tees
    Aluminium goes straight to Novleis Corus Steel, Lackenby Works, Teesside

    Novelis, Latchford Locks Works, Warrington. Cheshire WA4 1NP
    Household Batteries Ward Recycling under contract to ABRE Clay cross transfer station-
    GP Batteries in Darlaston.

    Ward Recycling under contract to ABRE Salvation Army Recycling Unit in Kettering Sorted and graded for resale in the UK and overseas; for distribution to the needy both at home and abroad; or for rags and stuffing.

    Bring Site Collections

    Material Collector Route Final Destination
    Glass Bottles and Jars Veolia Bulked up at Chesterfield Depot Glass Recycling UK See above for comments on excess glass
    Newspapers and Magazines Veolia WRL Clay cross transfer station-
    Bridgewater Paper Ltd in Ellesmere Port used to make newsprint.
    Tins and cans
    Veolia Richard Fletcher Metals for sorting Aluminium to Yorks Alloys
    Steel to Sims Metals Nottingham

    Novelis Warrington
    Corus Steel Teeside
    Plastic bottles , tins and cans Sheffield Reclamation ( Reclaim) Reclaim in Sheffield for sorting and baling passed through RECOUP to a variety of reprocessors in UK, Europe and the Far East
    Salvation Army Trading Co Salvation Army Recycling Unit in Kettering Sorted and graded for resale in the UK and overseas; for distribution to the needy both at home and abroad; or for rags and stuffing.

    Twin Bin Collections

    Material Collector Route Final Destination
    Green waste and Cardboard Veolia CRC in Sheepbridge Park Farm in Rotherham where it is shredded and composted in windrows.

  18. Mrs Green says:

    Oooo, wahee – the bigger the better we say 🙂 Brilliant; thank you! Were you pleased with the response?

  19. sunshine_mel says:

    hurrah for eastbourne – i got the following:

    All colours of glass collected at kerbside are collected by SITA and bulked up at Westham before being set on to British Glass (O-1 Manufacturing Ltd), Harlow Essex.

    Kerbside – Paper is collected at kerbside and in the smaller ‘1100’ bins at bring sites by SITA and bulked up at Westham before being sent on to Shotton Paper, Shotton, Deeside, Flintshire.

    Mixed Cans
    All tins and cans collected at kerbside are collected by SITA and bulked up at Westham before being set on to AMG Resources, Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.

    All textiles collected at kerbside are collected by SITA and bulked up at Westham before being sent on to JMP Wilcox, Beldray Road, Bilston, West Midlands.

    Plastic bottles are collected at kerbside by SITA and delivered to the Wealden District Council depot in Uckfield.

    Green Garden Waste
    Bring Site & Kerbside – GGW is collected by Wealden District Council on behalf of EBC. This is then delivered straight to KPS Composting in Isfield, near Lewes.

  20. Mrs Green says:

    That’s great, Sunshine_Mel. Thank you so much for adding Eastbourne to our ever-growing list. I feel excited that this could really become a great resource for many readers 🙂

  21. Hi Mrs Green,

    I have contacted Renfrewshire Council with regard to Recycling information, explaining that Gloucestershire in alliance with local Zero Waste enthusiasts will be holding the Janauary event.
    If is ok, I will email details to you when they arrive.

  22. Mrs Green says:

    That’s great John; I look forward to hearing what your council have to say 🙂

  23. maisie clark says:

    Here is the response I have received from my County Council

    Dear East Lindsey resident,

    I hope I can help answer your query.

    The material that you put in your recycling bin is first taken to a Materials Recovery Facility where it is separated out by type, paper, card, aluminium, steel, etc. Plastics are too sorted by type and sometimes even by colour. There will also be a proportion of unrecyclable contamination which is segregated before being sent to be burnt for energy recovery or to be landfilled.

    After separation the clean recyclable material is then ready to be transported to reprocessors who will make it into new products. Paper is sent to a paper Mill in Sweden, Plastics are sent to a facility in Leicester, Steel and Aluminium is recycled in this country by the likes of Corous, cardboard is exported to China.

    In regards to what material you can recycle, and the examples you mention, only plastic bottles (type 1, 2 and some 3) can be accepted in your kerbside recycling. When dealing wih plastics its misleading to look at material type. Plastics are easily contaminated by food residue and can be fused with other materials (metals, paper and other plastics) which is why bottles are more easily recycled as they tend to be relatively pure and clean.

    At our Household Waste Recycling Centre in Louth as well as plastic bottles we accept plastic film (type 4 or LDPE) and bulky hard plastics such as furniture, diy, tubs, bins, guttering, etc. The latter accounts for many of the plastics you mention including polystyrene (not the expanded type) poly-propylene, PVC and polycarbonate. This material is large and reasoanable pure unlike some food packaging.

    I hope this helps answer your queries, I have also attached a draft HWRC guide for your perusal (and would welcome feedback). Please contact me if you would like any further information or need anything clarifying.

    Kenton Vigus
    Recycling Officer
    01522 552397

    The HWRC document is an escel chart listing all the HWRC facilities in teh County and all teh different items which can be recycled at same.

  24. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Maisie,
    Thank you so much for adding your comments to the list. We’re building up a neat little resource now which we might turn into an article once we have more responses.
    We’re you pleased with the response?

  25. maisie clark says:

    I think it could have been a little more in depth like some of the other responses but the HWRC doc he sent me would be a great bonus to households throughout the county as it does list all the different materials. (I’ll email you a copy).

    I also asked if it would be possible for me to go to look at the MRF in operation, and maybe then have aview to taking the year 5 & 6 pupils from DS2 school as well to follow through on the recycling process.

  26. Mrs Green says:

    Maisie, a visit would be great – it gives a hands on approach to the whole concept of ‘just throw it away.’ This seems to be the message Mr G and I keep coming back to, and maybe it’s time for some eye opening reality on the matter.
    Thanks for the HWRC doc; it was very good.

  27. scott says:

    just a question , with everyone selling scrap metal is there any where in the midlands that buys old car tyres ? i live by a lot of scrap yards and they are being dumped everywhere.

  28. Mrs Green says:

    @scott: Hello Scott; good to see you. I can’t answer your question, but your local council should be able to help. You can find their number here:


  29. Nick Wagg says:

    Re: Sarah Barnard’s comment of 12th September 2008
    “Green waste and Cardboard Veolia CRC in Sheepbridge Park Farm in Rotherham where it is shredded and composted in windrows.”

    These exact words appear on the Chesterfield Borough Council website, except that the layout and punctuation make it clearer that Veolia send the green waste to CRC in Sheepbridge (near Chesterfield) and its ultimate destination is Park Farm in Rotherham where it is used on the farm for soil improver.

    I was trying to find out if it is possible to buy the compost but the FAQs on Veolia’s website state that their licence does not permit them to sell the compost back to the public, which I think is a shame.

    Interesting that Sarah’s blog doesn’t appear to have any September 2008 entries, at least not any more, and I don’t see any explanation on these pages for their removal. Still, “her blog” is not exactly a blog on ethics as one might first think, or even a blog about ethical trading, but a thinly veiled attempt to market the products of Ethics Trading. After all, her gravatar on this site is just her company logo – everything leads back to the business. It seems one can even trade ethics these days.

  30. Nick Wagg says:

    @Sarah Barnard: I should have used the Reply button.

  31. Sarah says:

    @Nick Wagg: Hi Nick, do I know you? Was there any reason to make snide comments about my business blog?

    To answer your comments though, in the interests of openness and honesty. My blog suffered some software problems a few months ago and part of my post database was lost, which would explain the missing Sept ’08 entries. My blog is not a “thinly veiled attempt to market the products of Ethics Trading” it is a BLATANT attempt to promote my own company. I own Ethics Trading, in case you’d not noticed that. I do include posts on recycling, zero waste and ethical issues but mainly that blog is in place to promote the company. I’ve never said it was anything else. Of course everything I do leads back to my business, it’s called low level marketing. I pride myself on being open and honest about it and have never hidden or veiled the fact that Ethics Trading is mine and I will promote myself and my business at every available opportunity.

    Chesterfield Borough Council have changed their website a little since this thread and that information is now much easier to find and is laid out in a much clearer fashion. Kudos to them for that.

    Thanks for your feedback.

  32. Philip Port says:

    Basically in Gloustershire you should be OK. East lindsey problematic, look out the window at collections if they sort your boxes into compartments on a truck then it will be recycled. if they chuch it in the back of an RCV then it will be going to a MRF and much of it will be exported. If you put it all in a wheeled bin then quite frankley your buggered, they will pretend to recycle some in the UK, but it will be shipped to india or other similar.

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