What happens to your waste?

Ever wondered what happens to your rubbish after your recycling bins are collected or you drop something off at the recycling centre?

Waste and recycling collected from your doorstep or taken to one of our recycling centres is either recycled, made into compost or can even be turned into electricity.

How are we doing in Lancashire?

In the last year, Lancashire has seen a drop in its recycling and composting rate from 45.6% in 2016/17 to 43.5% in 2017/18.

  • The UK has a national recycling target of 50% to meet by 2020, set by the European Union.

In 2016/17 district councils and recycling centres collected:

  • 391,923 tonnes of residual waste (black bag waste)
  • 93,101 tonnes of garden waste
  • 156,773 tonnes of recyclables

Check out our top tips for recycling

How is your waste and recycling sorted?

Your district council collects the waste and recycling from your home and takes it to a waste transfer station. The county council then transports it for further processing.

  • Black bin bag waste - Anything you don't separate for recycling will either end up in Whinney Hill Landfill Site at Accrington or might be recovered to make Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) which is sent for use in industrial furnaces. In 2017/18, about 20% of all our black bin bag waste was made into RDF.

  • Garden waste - is transferred to third party processors, where it is composted.
  • Recycling - Your recycling is transported to processing plants known as Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), to be sorted and separated into different types of materials by hand or machine (or both) before being sent to manufacturers who make it into new products.
    • Glass bottles and jars - Glass is separated into two different types based on fraction size and makes up the largest material (by weight) processed in our MRF.
    • Paper and card - Most of the paper and card collected is sent directly to a paper mill in Manchester.
    • Plastic bottles - A laser identifies different types of plastic and a jet of air is then used to push the different types into separate containers which are then baled by material type.
    • Metals - Magnets and eddy current separator's are used to extract and separate steel cans and aluminium tins for recycling.

Find your bin collection day

What happens to the recycled materials?

The sorted and baled materials for recycling are sold to around 25 different companies who carry out further processing, so that it can be sold to manufacturers of new products.

  • Glass - becomes new glass products, such as bottles, fish tank 'sand' or for use in other industrial processes such as sandblasting.
  • Plastic - plastic bottles can be recycled into a wide variety of products including: clothing, toys, chairs, tables, kitchen utensils, car parts, cuddly toys, filling for duvets, garden furniture, or more plastic bottles.
  • Metal - becomes a new metal product from a paper clip, a food or drinks can, a car engine component or an iron to a washing machine. 

Local recycling schemes

HM Prison Wymott - Recycling wood

We receive over 22,000 tonnes of wood across our recycling centres in an average year. It is usually low quality including off-cuts, wood based panels, treated or painted wood.

Recently, we have been collecting 'clean' wood at our Preston recycling centre. It is then used to provide training to prisoners in the wood workshop at HM Prison Wymott. They have been creating a range of wooden garden furniture, planters and hanging baskets. 

Active Lancashire - Reusing bicycles

In 2017 we began a pilot project, working with a charity called Active Lancashire, who repair and renew old bicycles via their network of community workshops.

Our recycling centre staff put aside bicycles that could be reused, for Active Lancashire to collect. They are then restored by volunteers who benefit by gaining confidence and skills, and they get to keep the bike they have been working on.

Find out more about Active Lancashire and activities you can get involved in.

Making street kerbs from recycled plastic

Every year we handle up to 10,000 tonnes of low value 'hard' plastic such as that used to make garden and office furniture. It's hard to find companies prepared to take this material, so most of it currently goes to landfill.

We're in the early stages of trialling a possible use for this hard plastic in making kerbstones. If successful, it could be used to make other types of street furniture in the future, so more hard plastic could be diverted from landfill.