Where recycling goes

In 2018/19 Borough of Poole’s (now part of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council) household recycling, reuse and composting rate rose to 51.7% and since 2017/18 we have exceeded the government’s target of 50% by 2020.

Where does the recycling from my blue bin go

After the blue bins are emptied at the kerbside the recycling is tipped at the Nuffield transfer station in Poole. Throughout the week the recycling is then loaded onto articulated lorries so it can be transported to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The recyclable waste is sorted into the separate material streams (e.g. paper, plastics, metals and glass) by a series of conveyer belts, light sensors and other specialised technical equipment as well as some hand sorting. Once the material is baled it is sent to reprocessors who will recycle it into new products.

How much of it is recycled

In 2018/19 over 94% of all material placed into the blue bin was recycled. The remainder were items that could not be recycled such as nappies, food waste and polystyrene. The majority of the waste that could not be recycled was sent to an energy from waste facility.

Where does the recycling go and what happens to it

Our contract to sort and process household waste and recycling is with Viridor Waste Management, and they only work with Environment Agency accredited and licensed facilities.

The end destinations of the recycling change depending on demand and value that can be obtained for the material. We pay for recycling to be processed, so if Viridor can get better prices for the materials this will in turn, keep the cost down for us.

Here are some recent examples of where your recycling is sent and some typical examples of what happens to it:


Where it goes 

What happens to it

Glass Bottles and Jars                               UK
Used to make glass bottles and jars or as a replacement for sand in construction.
Aluminium and Steel Cans UK Recycled into cans and food packaging or used in engineering, architecture and the manufacture of car parts.
Paper UK, EU, China and South East Asia      Used for paper and packaging
Cardboard UK, EU, China and South East Asia Recycled into cardboard and packaging
Plastic Bottles, Pots, Tubs and Trays UK and EU Used in the production of plastic bottles or food packaging, clothing, toys and garden furniture
Juice and Milk Cartons                                                     China                                                                       The three main materials are separated:
• Paper is used for food packaging
• Plastic for garden furniture
• Aluminium for building material 

Where does the garden waste from my green bin go

Garden waste collected in the green bins goes to a composting site in Parley, near Bournemouth airport. The material is shredded then placed in long rows which are turned regularly to keep moisture content, temperature and oxygen levels even. The process takes 16 weeks on average to complete before the compost is used for agriculture and landscaping.      

Where does the waste from my black bin go

The majority of waste from black bins is sent to an Energy from Waste facility where the process will produce power for the national grid. Scrap metal and ash, used in construction, are also extracted following the process. Alternatively, black bin waste is sent for Mechanical Biological Treatment near Canford Magna where metals and a compost like output are extracted for recycling, after this the waste left over is also sent to Energy from Waste facilities. The smallest proportion goes to landfill.

Page last updated: 03 October 2019
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