Understand What Happens to Your Rubbish and Help Improve Recycling

Earlier this year, we reported that recycling at PW rose by 7% following a presentation by Professor Darren Reynolds and Dr Gillian Clayton from the Centre of Research in Biosciences at the University of the West of England, who confirmed that our water is just as high quality as bottled water.

This positive news built on our successes in 2019, when our recycling saved 180 trees, 37,780 kg of CO2 and provided 23 meals for vulnerable people. Thanks to our collective efforts, we were given a Recycling Award from our recycling company Paper Round!

However, a recent investigation by the Telegraph showed that at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, some household recycling waste was sent for incineration or to landfill due to a perfect storm of facility inaccessibility, staff shortages and increased waste production.

We are yet to see how the pandemic has affected our waste and recycling at a national level. But as we make a welcome return to work after lockdown, we have the chance to start afresh at PW with an even bigger push to improve recycling onsite. To help us reach our recycling goals, we’ve got some top tips from Paper Round and a handy video below explaining exactly what happens to our rubbish once it arrives at the recycling plant.

As the video makes clear, your recycling goes through several stages and is separated into many streams:

  1. Recycling is unloaded into a bag splitter
  2. Large items or contaminants (like glass) are manually removed from the sorting line. This is done by hand, which is why all recycling must be kept clean and dry.
  3. Next, a waste screen sifts out things based on size (under 50mm) like dirt, food and broken glass. NB: This process will also sift out shredded paper, so please make sure this is collected separately, and bottle lids, so please always leave them attached to bottles to make sure they don’t get lost!
  4. A ballistic separator then separates 2D items like paper from 3D items like plastics and cans, setting them onto different tracks within the sorting line.
  5. The baler compacts materials into sorted bales, which are sent to re-processors around the UK and Northern Europe.

As you can see, many of these stages require manual input from Paper Round staff, who pick out particular materials or contaminants from the sorting line. That’s why it’s so important that contaminants like glass are kept out the recycling, and all materials are kept clean and dry.

Top tips from Paper Round:

  • keep bottle lids on the bottles
  • collect your shredded paper separately
  • recycle coffee cups separately (due to their plastic content)
  • make sure everything is clean and dry
  • only include target materials to avoid contamination
  • spread the word!