What Happens to My Recycling
What happens to the contents of my blue wheelie bin after collection?
Cannock Chase Council does not sort and process the recyclable materials itself. It has a contract with a company to collect, sort and then sell the reusable materials collected to end markets.
Change in collection method July 2010
During July 2010 households were issued with a blue 240 litre wheelie bin to replace their boxs and bags for the collection of their "Dry" Recycling (paper, cardboard, plastics, glass bottles and jars, Tetra Paks, tins and cans).
The mixed "single stream" recycling is taken to be sorted at a state of art recycling plant in Aldridge, West Midlands (see link to video below).
The move to the new system has made it easier for households to recycling, helped keep the streets free from litter and has made the collection safer and easier for the collection crews.
It has also resulting in an increase in the amount of material that is recycled and not sent to landfill.
How is it sorted?
In June 2009 the company that sorts and sells your/our recyclables opened a new recycling facility in Aldridge in the West Midlands. This new plant can sort 300,000 tonnes of mixed recycling each year. Here is a link to a video of the Aldridge Facility: Biffa's recycling plant in Aldridge
How does the plant sort the materials?
After the recyclable materials have been tipped onto the tipping floor they are scooped up and placed onto a conveyor belt. As the conveyor belt travels through the plant, different technologies are used to remove each recyclable material. Here is a brief description of how each material is removed.
PAPER & CARDBOARD: This is the first material to be removed. Large cogs throw the paper and card up in the air. It is then blown onto another conveyor belt that takes it to be sorted again into either newspapers and magazines or cardboard/packaging.
GLASS: By the time the glass bottles and jars have reached the recycling plant they are broken up and the glass is simply sieved out and taken away by another conveyor belt.
STEEL CANS: These are removed by a large magnet as the conveyor belt travels under it.
ALUMINIUM CANS: These are removed by an electric charge that is fired across the belt. This throws the cans off the belt onto another.
PLASTICS: Each type of plastic reflects light at a different wavelength. As the plastics travel along the belt a scanner is set to recognise each plastic by its light signature. A scanner is set to recognise PET type 1 plastic (clear pop bottles). When the scanner detects one it fires it off the belt with an air jet onto another.
This is done for the 4 main types of plastics that are collected: PET, HDPE, PVC & PP5 (See plastics identification table)
At the end of each conveyor the material is bailed up ready to be delivered to companies that use the material to manufacture new products etc.
Closed loop recycling
Biffa are working hard to develop closed loop recycling routes for all materials. For example plastic milk bottles from Aldridge are recycled back into milk bottles. Collected bottles are taken from Aldridge plant to Biffa's plastic milk bottle recycling plant. Here is a video of the plant: Biffa's Plastic Milk Bottle Recycling Facility The milk bottles are cleaned and chipped ready to be use to make new milk bottles for companies such as Marks and Spencer.