Wednesday, June 24, 2009

So where does all our recycling go?

A couple of regular blog contributors have queried where the contents of our recycling bins and bags go? Paul Cain has pointed me towards an article in the Times regarding recyclables sent overseas - sometimes the end result frankly makes a mockery of the efforts householders have gone to to recycle in the first place. Reports of streets in India strewn with slimy plastic waste are simply unacceptable.

I've got the definitive lowdown from Wades on the destination of the various items we recycle here in Darlington. One point I should make at the very start is that our recycling has an audit trail, so the Council can where necessary check up on the destination of our materials. The Times report suggests that not all local authorities maintain these standards.

Anyway, here's the key information for Darlington;

Aluminium Cans

Collected and sent to Teesside initially, and then processed in Liverpool. Are used to make other cans.

Steel Cans

Collected and sent to a local depot, then to a UK CORUS plant.


Sent to a company in Spennymoor. May be sent to another part of the EU, depending on market strength (ie where the demand is) for reprocessing. Germany is a popular destination at present.


Sent to Derby, where they are turned into plastic granules. Can be returned to other plastic products.


Crushed into aggregate, and used appropriately. May be turned into tarmac.


Good quality product is sent to Hexham to be turned into chipboard. Other material may be mixed with other green waste, and used as a medium for restoration of the Aycliffe Quarry site.

There's no reason, of course, why some recycled product shouldn't be sent abroad for processing, if that can't be undertaken here in the UK for economic - surely that's far better than simply throwing it into landfill? And some finished cans or plastics will certainly be sent abroad - that's inevitable in our globalised market. Still, it seems a few bad apples in the local authority/waste disposal industry are letting the rest (and their residents) down with very shady practice which flies in the face of the principles of sustainability.

I'm reassured that we have a reputable, high quality partner in Wades, but we will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that our recycling is handled appropriately.


Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

It's right that we should know where our rubbish is being taken to and the method of disposal. Thanks for that.

Spare a thought for the poor blighters in Toronto, Canada where the Council bin men have been on strike since last Monday morning, the rubbish (or garbage as they call it) is piling up all over the city, the temperatures are in the high 80s every day and settling the dispute is as far away as ever.
Not a nice situation at all.

Paul Cain said...

Morning Councillor.

Useful info. Thanks

I note in another thread you say you'll ask for the data to be uploaded to the DBC website.

I think that's a good idea. In fact I think you should, if you can, insist upon it.

Transparency is the theme du jour and it can help DBC and recycling's cause if you are open with the data.

tree hugger said...

Which councils are the "bad apples" lets name and shame them!

Ian W said...

What is the financial relationship between DBC and Wade's?

How does the deal work, who gets what?