What we do with your waste
Most of the materials collected at our recycling centres are recycled or reused.
Recycling materials has a better environmental impact and costs less money than disposing of it with the rest of our leftover rubbish. There are some recyclable materials, like metals, that have some value and selling these materials helps lower the cost of running our recycling centre service.
However, it actually costs money to recycle a lot of the material we receive at our recycling centres – but this is still a lot less than the cost of disposing of it with the rest of the leftover rubbish.
What happens to the waste we don't recycle?
After all our efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle there is still a lot of waste generated by households in Norfolk that isn't recycled. In 2015/16 there was over 200,000 tonnes - over half a tonne for every Norfolk household in one year - and for many years this waste was buried in landfill sites. Although we need to reduce the amount of leftover waste, or “residual waste” we’re generating, we still need to deal with the residual waste we do create in ways that are environmentally friendly and good value for money.
40,000 tonnes per year of residual waste are sent to an energy from waste facility in Great Blakenham in Suffolk. The waste is burnt to produce energy while scrap metals and ash generated from the process are recycled.
160,000 tonnes per year of residual waste are sent to three different facilities that process it into a fuel that is exported to combined heat and power facilities in Europe. The waste is burnt to generate electricity and heat. Exporting waste to Europe to facilities that recover both heat and electricity from the combustion process has a better carbon footprint than burying waste in a landfill in Norfolk
Car batteries are collected by Glazewing in West Dereham, and are turned into lead and plastic chip and sent to UK markets via Derbyshire. Polypropylene is recovered for a variety of uses and gypsum (from the acid) has uses in the agricultural industry. Sulphuric acid, plastic, lead oxides and sulphates can be recovered from lead acid batteries
Household batteries are collected by Wiser in Thetford, and sent to a UK-based battery recycler. The recovered materials vary but are refined and sent onto specialised manufactures. Recovered nickel and steel is used in the steel industry. Cadmium and cobalt are reused in battery manufacturing. Recovered silver is used in the photographic and electronics industry. Mercury is reused in the lighting industry.
Bric-a-brac and furniture
Some bric-a-brac is collected by designated bric-a-brac collectors and taken to local auction houses and sold. There are reuse shops at some of our recycling centres where members of the public can buy items.
We send cardboard to the NEWS material recycling facility in Costessey where it is bulked and baled. The material goes to MOL Fibre ex works, who currently export the material to the Chinese market for reprocessing back into cardboard. We also send some cardboard to M W Whites in Hethersett, Norfolk where they bale the material for export outside of the UK.
Cooking oil is recycled, without the use of additives, to produce biofuel (LF100) and biodiesel by Living Fuels in Hockwold. This is used exclusively within UK renewable facilities to generate heat and electricity for business and domestic properties.
Electrical items (WEEE)
Small domestic appliances are collected by Wiser. Vacuum cleaners, coffee and sewing machines are assessed before being resold directly through charity and social enterprise partners in the UK. Remaining items including radios, kettles, irons, drills and clocks are dismantled into component parts of mainly plastics and metals. These light items are shredded at a Cambridgeshire facility. Recovered plastics and metals are sent to a UK reprocessor. Small domestic appliances are collected by Wiser, Environcom and EMR.
Large domestic appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers are collected by Glazewing, Sackers, Envirocom, EMR and Wiser. Metals and plastics are sold abroad in Europe with some ferrous metals also sold to India and Africa.
Engine oil is collected by Eco-oil in Ipswich. Some wastes can be returned to their original formulation. Others are recycled into industrial fuel used in manufacturing cement.
Fridges and freezers
They are collected by Wiser and Envirocom, and are then sent for resale through charity and social enterprise partners in the UK. If they are unsuitable for reuse, the components are recycled via specialist recycling plants. Metals and plastics are sent to reprocessors across the UK and Europe. Gases are recycled or incinerated. Insulations foam is used within the construction industry.
Garden and green waste
Green waste is composted to PAS100 standard at various sites in Norfolk (Greencomp, Greenworld, Marasham, ORM and TMA Bark Supplies) and is mainly sold as soil improver to the local horticulture and agriculture industry in the UK. A small amount is bagged and sold at the recycling centres.
Gas bottles (empty)
Empty gas cylinders are collected and returned to the companies who own them. The bottles can then be refilled again. Gas bottles are sent to Glazewing, Cylinder Care, and Flogas Ltd. Cylinders which are damaged beyond repair are recycled via European Metal Recyclers, Norwich.
Bottles and jars are reprocessed and turned into either glass bottles, or in the case of the mixed glass and contaminated loads, into road aggregates. Glass bottles are collected by Berryman and Indigo Waste for reprocessing.
Flat glass is collected by Glazewing and then reprocessed into aggregate, for use primarily in Norfolk.
Hardcore (brick) and rubble
Taken to various reprocessors across Norfolk: Carl Bird Ltd, Gambles Plant Ltd, Frimstone, Folkes Plant and Aggregates, Glazewing and Middleton Aggregates.
Rubble is screened, crushed and graded then sold within the UK for various uses, including road repair and construction as well as DIY uses.
Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes
Light bulbs and fluorescent tubes are collected by Wiser and Recyclite. Component materials are glass, metal and phosphor. These are separated and recovered, with glass further crushed and used in block making and pipe bedding. Metals are sent to UK based reprocessors. Phosphor powder is exported to Europe for the recovery of mercury and rare earth materials.
Ferrous and non-ferrous metal is collected by Glazewing and EMR sent to UK and European markets, with some ferrous metals also sold to India and Africa.
Mobile phones are collected and sorted by Wiser (Thetford, Norfolk). They are sent to a UK Reuse and Recycling Centre and reused wherever possible. Otherwise, components are recycled.
Paper is sorted and baled in Norfolk, then loaded into containers and transported to Felixstowe docks where it is taken to the Far East for reprocessing. This material is recycled into brown paper, grey or brown card and made back into packaging materials. Some of the paper also goes to Palm Paper in King’s Lynn for reprocessing into new paper.
Collected by Glazewings and Mid-UK. The paper is processed and supplied to various power stations and cement works. The gypsum powder is reused in plasterboard and cement or sold to cement factories in the UK (Cemex and Siniat).
Printer cartridges are collected by Wiser. They are checked and sorted into reusable and recyclable items. Any that can’t be refilled are recycled.
Televisions and monitors
Items are sorted into items suitable for reuse and items suitable for recycling only. Reusable goods are tested and sold whilst the recyclable goods are dismantled and separated into various components.
Televisions and monitors are collected by two companies Wiser and Environcom (in Grantham) for reprocessing.
Textiles and clothes
Textiles are collected by Chris Carey (based in London) and Wilcox (based in the West Midlands). Any good quality items that would be suitable for reuse are separated at the sorting facility into gender, age and household linen. They are sold to various markets in sub-Saharan Africa (90%), Eastern Europe and Pakistan.
The lower grade textiles which are suitable for recycling are reprocessed in the UK into items such as industrial cleaning cloths and fillings for furniture and insulation for the automotive industry. A very small percentage (1-3%) of textiles is returned to the waste stream.
Tyres are sorted and cleaned before shredding. They are processed into new rubber products in the UK only. Tyres are sent to Glazewing and processed by Monckton Rubber (Sheffield).
Wood and timber
Wood and timber is transported to Greencomp in Wymondham where it is bulked for onwards reprocessing at Hadfields Ltd (Manchester). At the reprocessing site, the wood is cleaned through a sophisticated cleaning plant and then graded again. It is made into bedding and flooring for poultry, cattle, horses and bio-fuels. The main recipients are farms for the bedding and powers stations for the fuel.