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What Happens to Your Recycling?

As a nation, we are slowly improving the amount which we recycle and growing more attuned to the process as a whole. There are, however, a number of elements of the process which may remain as a mystery to people across the country, so here we explain how the process works and is broken down.


Recyclables are collected from homes around the country in two main ways. Firstly, kerbside ‘sort’ schemes in which recyclables are sorted into their respective categories and types of material on the lorry at the kerbside, and secondly co-mingled collections in which all recyclables are put into one compartment on the lorry, then taken to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where they are sorted.

Depending on the type of recyclables being collected, there are two different types of vehicle which come for the collection. One vehicle collects dry recycling, while another comes to collect all food waste and green garden waste.

What happens to my dry recycling?

  • Mixed recycling is first sorted into a giant spinning drum called a trommel in which bottles and cans will fall through the drum walls.
  • Next, the recycling will be moved along a series of conveyor belts during which stage magnets attract and repel steel and aluminium cans, and plastic bottles are separated by laser-guided jets.
  • Final checks are carried out to ensure nothing has been put into the recycling by mistake, before the sorted recycling falls into collection bays from which it is taken away to be made into bales.
  • The final baled recycling is sent away to manufacturers to be made into new products. Some examples include glass bottles and jars being used for fine sand and paving, plastic bottles being made into plant pots and steel cans being made into further steel cans.

What happens to my food waste and green garden waste?

  • All food waste and green garden waste is collected in one vehicle, including food scraps and compost waste. Though collected together, it is important to keep them in separate containers so one system can be used for those people without gardens solely for their food waste, and in the future food waste has the potential to be collected separately so it makes sense to keep it separate in the meantime.
  • Once collected, the waste is then taken to a large industrial composting facility where it will be shredded and placed into compost tunnels. The composting process takes about 12 weeks, following which the waste will be screened and then used in local agriculture and horticultural outlets.

Here at Woodford Recycling, we provide a range of expert waste recycling solutions to customers throughout Cambridgeshire, including Huntingdon, Peterborough and the surrounding areas. We are also proud to cover the rest of the UK thanks to our network of approved partners. For more information on our recycling services, or for any other enquiry, get in touch with our friendly team of experts today.


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