What happens to your recycling and dustbin rubbish

Find out what happens to your recycling and dustbin rubbish after we collect it.

Mixed paper, cardboard and cartons

These materials from blue boxes and wheeled recycling banks are initially delivered to the Council’s depot in Craneford Way, Twickenham. Bulk loads are then transported by Newport Paper Limited to paper mills within the European Union for reprocessing. The recovered paper fibres are then used instead of virgin wood pulp to make new paper products such as newspapers and magazines.

Mixed glass, cans and plastic bottles, tubs and trays

These materials from black boxes and wheeled recycling banks are initially delivered to the Council’s depot in Craneford Way, Twickenham. Bulk loads are then transported to Veolia's sorting plant (known as a Materials Recovery Facility or MRF) in Rainham, Essex. This facility mainly uses mechanical processes to separate the materials but some manual picking is needed too. Once the materials have been separated, they are sold on to reprocessors which recycle them into new products as follows:

  • Glass is sorted by colour and remelted to make new bottles and jars. Any glass that does not meet the quality requirements for these is used as a sand substitute for construction aggregates
  • Steel cans are recycled into new cans and other steel products
  • Aluminium cans are recycled into new cans
  • Plastic bottles and containers are recycled into fleeces, pillows or more packaging

Food waste

Material from the green food waste boxes collected weekly from houses is initially delivered to the West London Waste Authority (WLWA) in Transport Way, Hounslow. WLWA then deliver bulk loads of food waste to Biogen’s anaerobic digestion facilities located in Bedford. This process produces methane which is used to generate electricity for the National Grid as well as a digestate (compost-like material) which is used as a fertiliser on farmland.

Garden waste

Material collected from households or delivered to Townmead Road Household Waste and Recycling Centre is initially delivered to the West London Waste Authority which has arrangements with a number of companies in England that compost the material in large windrows (long heaps). The finished compost is typically used as a soil improver in grounds maintenance projects.  

Textiles

Material from textile banks around the borough are collected for recycling by Soex UK (formerly known as the European Recycling Company) for sorting at their plant in Germany. Nearly two thirds of donated items are rewearable and can be sold on. Most of the rest have their fibres recovered for remanufacturing into new products such as wiper cloths and insulation. Items unsuitable for either of these processes may be incinerated for energy recovery.

Electrical items

Materials delivered for recycling in Twickenham or Ham Libraries, or collected for recycling as part of a bulky waste collection are initially delivered to Townmead Road. All electrical items are then collected by a contractor acting on behalf of manufacturers and retailers of electrical goods who must ensure that minimum levels of recycling are achieved. Valuable metals are recovered from this electrical waste for recycling into new metal and electrical products.

Dustbin rubbish

All waste collected in dustbins and refuse sacks is delivered to the West London Waste Authority in Transport Avenue, Hounslow. From there, bulk loads are delivered to one of two energy-from-waste incinerators located near Bristol and Slough. The energy released is utilised to generate electricity for the National Grid. Metals are recovered for recycling afterwards and most other ashes and aggregates produced are utilised in construction projects but a small amount (less than five percent) of the outputs for which recycling markets cannot be found still has to be landfilled.

Updated: 7 December 2018