Skip to content

News 2013

Blooming flowers under a blue sky
Home | News | 2013

What happens to north London's recycling?

Apr 10, 2013
Contrary to misleading reports in some national media, the UK's recycling does not get “dumped in landfill” either in the UK or abroad..

Here in north London, your recycling is actually sorted in the city, and sold to manufacturers who turn it into a range of new products and materials. This income helps north London’s councils offset the cost of waste disposal.

Some of these manufacturers are in the UK while others are based abroad. The recycling gets sent to where there is a reliable and financially sound market for the materials.

At present, many of the manufactured goods that we buy in the UK are made in the Far East and therefore, some of the recyclable material is sent there because that is where it is needed as raw material to make into new products. The material gets turned into a vast range of products, from kitchen appliances, to toys, clothes and packaging.

What happens to each type of waste that people separate for recycling in north London:

Dry recyclables such as paper, metals, glass and plastic

Dry recyclables are either sorted at the kerbside when they’re collected or taken to a Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in London where they are sorted into the various materials such as paper, glass, plastic and metal.

Whatever the method used  by the local council to collect the material from your home or business, the materials are passed on to reprocessors – places like paper mills or manufacturers of metal or plastic goods – where they are recycled and made into new products.

Kitchen and garden waste

All the kitchen and garden waste collected by north London councils is made into compost. Mostly this happens at our composting facility in Edmonton, which is run by LondonWaste Ltd, but if there is too much it will be taken to another composting site in the surrounding area.

None of the recycling we collect is incinerated or sent to landfill unless it is too contaminated to be processed. That’s why it’s important that residents do not put the wrong things in the bins for recycling or composting. The NLWA and north London's seven borough councils plan ahead to make sure that there are enough facilities available to recycle and compost all of the waste that is collected.

Waste that cannot be recycled is either used as fuel to generate electricity at an energy from waste incinerator, or sent to landfill.

Cllr Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, commented:

“It is extremely irresponsible to discourage recycling by incorrectly suggesting that a large amount of the recycling collected in the UK is simply ‘dumped in landfill’, at a time when it is more important than ever that people recycle as much as they can.

North London councils, like all others across the UK are dealing with the pressure on public finances. Saving money where we can is paramount, and recycling is one area where the savings to councils can be potentially very significant.”

To find out more, visit our "What happens to your recycling?" webpages