What happens to the contents of my blue wheelie bin after collection?
During July 2010 households were issued with a blue 240 litre wheelie bin to replace their boxes and bags for the collection of their "Dry" Recycling (paper, cardboard, plastics, glass bottles and jars, fruit juice cartons, tins and cans). This mixed recycling is taken to be sorted at a state of art recycling facility in Aldridge, West Midlands.
How is the recycling sorted?
The film below shows how the contents of your blue recycling bin are sorted. It shows that there is a huge amount of effort put into sorting the recyclables after they have been collected from your home.
The householder plays an important role in this process as they are the first link in the chain that turns household waste into usable resources. It is therefore very important that at this first stage the right items/materials are put into the recycling bin.
If the wrong items/materials, such as; food waste, nappies, garden waste or cat litter, are put into the blue recycling bin this could spoil/contaminate the other "target" materials and the whole load could be rejected.
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. See below for a brief description of how each material is removed from the belt.
Paper and cardboard
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 bottles and Jars
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 and Aluminium cans
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.
Plastic bottles and tubs
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. Below is a download listing these identificatin codes and which type of plastic we accept.
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
Last Updated: 25/10/2021