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