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Where does my recycling waste go?

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Recycling Charter

A common question raised by Preston residents is 'where does our recycling go?'

As a result we have chosen to sign up to the Resource Association's End Destinations of Recycling Charter. 

This is a voluntary commitment to publish an annual register of End Destination of Recyclates, with the aim of improving transparency in the recycling supply chain and enhancing public confidence in recycling.

What happens to my recycling in Preston?

Each recycling crew collects, on average, 6 tonnes of recycling a day. You can find details below of what happens to this recycling once we have collected it.

Vehicles tip off at a transfer station situated at Preston Docks where the material is then 'bulked up' and sent to the Leyland Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Farington. The material is weighed, checked for contamination and is then processed through the MRF's sophisticated sorting equipment. Materials are separated in to individual streams for glass, plastic bottles and cans, and then sent to specialist reprocessors for the next stage of the recycling process.

There are a large number of reprocessors that purchase our recycling and these companies can often change monthly as the market fluctuates and new developments are made in the reprocess.

Plastic bottles - Viridor, Roydon Group PLC and Biffa

Viridor, based in Skelmersdale, recycles 3,000 tonnes per month of post-consumer plastic bottles from local authorities and the private sector. Roydon Group PLC, of Swinton, currently produces over 15,000 tonnes of high quality PET flakes, and over 2,500 tons of HDPE, per annum with capacity for more. Biffa via their facility at Wigan bulk the plastics and send it for reprocessing at their own dedicated facility in Redcar which accepts over 63,000 tonnes of recyclable food grade plastics each year, or their new state of the art Seaham plant with the annual capacity to recycle over 57,000 tonnes of PET plastics alone. 

The primary recyclate streams are PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which can be used as a direct replacement for virgin plastic.

The process for recycling plastics bottles involves sorting the bales of plastics into PET and HDPE streams. These are then intensively washed and granulated to form new flakes or pellets of polymer which are then sold to be manufactured into new plastic products.

Mixed glass - Recresco, Viridor, Glass Recycling UK and URM (UK)

The glass we collect is 100% recyclable, and the Leyland MRF also attempts to recover as much glass as they can from the refuse stream. Their equipment sorts the glass into size not colour. After sorting it is then passed on to our reprocessors.

Recresco, located in Cheshire, Glass Recycling UK near Barnsley, Viridor in Motherwell, and URM (UK) Ltd of Pontefract, take the mixed glass at their specialist facilities. It is washed and contamination is removed. Anything that is not glass must be removed, such as paper, bottle tops, cans, plastic bottles and bags, stones or ceramic cups and plates. This is because when the glass is sent to the glass bottle manufacturers, they put it straight into the furnace to be melted and made into new bottles and jars. The majority of glass received goes back into the bottle manufacturing process.

Mixed glass that is less than 25mm often goes off to be made into aggregate or is used in filtration mechanisms in place of sand.

Cans and recyclable metals - EMR, Sims Metals and Recycling Lives

EMR have locations in Manchester, Liverpool and Salford and their core business is the recycling of scrap metal from a range of sources such as end-of-life vehicles and consumer products, industry, construction and demolition. They produce 10 million tonnes a year for re-sale and produce over 100 grades of high quality recycled materials.

Sims Metal Management are global leaders in sustainable and responsible metals recycling and recovery, and are one of the Global Top 100 Sustainable Companies. With over 90 years experience and 40 sites in the UK recycling over 2 million tonnes of metal, they take the steel and aluminium cans and turn them in to high grade materials for reuse in industry and manufacturing.

Recycling Lives is a charity based in Preston that acts as a safety net for vulnerable and marginalised people. Bales of cans are processed for remelt in the UK and then used for a variety of purposes such as being rolled into new sheet material for the manufacture of aluminium cans or recycled material is used in the manufacture of long steel products for steel reinforcement applications.

Paper and cardboard - Saica Natur UK 

Paper and cardboard goes to Saica Natur UK at their facility in Manchester. The company collects, processes and sells more then 440,000 tonnes of cardboard and paper per year.  Preston's paper and card is processed into plasterboard and other liners.

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