Wycombe Friends of the Earth

working for our local environment …

Friends of

the Earth

What happens to our recycling

In the Wycombe District Council meeting of 10th December 2018 the following information was given by Councillor Mrs J Adey (Cabinet Member for Environment) in response to a question on what happens to our recycling materials from Councillor M. Harris.

“Mixed recyclables presented in the blue bins are collected and bulked at the London Road depot in Amersham, for transfer by road to materials recovery facilities (MRFs) situated in other parts of the UK. Plastic bottles are sorted from the other materials present in the mixture and separated into different streams according to the type of plastic present.

The different types of plastic bottles are formed into bales and then shipped to re-processors in the UK and Europe, sometimes further afield. The plastic bottles are then re-processed to provide raw materials for the manufacture of new products. Recent information shows that an average of approximately 10% of the plastic bottles collected in Wycombe may eventually leave the UK or Europe for recycling purposes. These destination countries include Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia and India.

If non-recyclable material is presented in the mix which arrives at the MRF, the various processes and technologies in use at the facility will cause it to be separated from the useful material. The unwanted material is then disposed of and depending on the MRF in question it will be used for energy recovery.

Any plastic present in the residual waste bin will be disposed of in a compliant manner. In Wycombe District this means it will be collected along with the other residual waste, bulked at the High Heavens transfer station by the Waste Disposal Authority (Buckinghamshire County Council) and transported for energy recovery at the Greatmoor energy from waste facility.

Plastics presented by Wycombe residents in the blue bins will be recycled, or if presented in the grey bins, plastic bottles will be treated as residual waste and disposed of properly by our contractors. Recycling materials collected from the kerbside by the Council’s contractor and sent for sorting, bulking and onward transportation are subject to a regulatory process. This regulatory ‘duty of care’ requires that waste is only ever transferred to an authorised operator who has a valid registration as a carrier, broker or dealer of waste, or a waste management operator who has an environmental permit. Only reputable and compliant contractors are used. Operators of MRFs like those used by the Council are required to keep records and report to the regulator details of what they send out, every three months. To check on all this, the Joint Waste Team has its own programme of ‘duty of care’ visits. All contractors taking recycling from us are visited, and the officers satisfy themselves that the operators are meeting the requirements of the legislation and all the necessary documentation is up to date and compliant. We recently visited Crayford MRF for this purpose and all was found to be in order.”

Supplementary Question

“Is there any way that plastics from my ward residents ends up in the oceans?”

Supplementary Response

“The Chances are exceedingly small, in that it is believed that only 0.03% of the plastics found in oceans comes from the UK.”