What happens to your recycling?

Councillor Lesley Hinds, Environment Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, explains what happens to your recycling.

The Council’s tenement recycling pilot has been running for three weeks and we’re already seeing improvements in recycling.

It is still early days and it will take a little bit of getting used to so we want to debunk some of the myths and misconceptions that exist around recycling so that we can help residents understand what happens to their waste, and encourage them to recycle more.

What happens to recycling?

  • Paper is sent to a paper mill where it is processed back in to newsprint.
  • Tins and cans are recycled back into new tins and cans.
  • Glass is reprocessed and made into new glass jars and bottles.
  • Cardboard is made in to packaging.
  • Textiles are recycled and donated to various charities including the national Blind Children's Association, The World Cancer Research Fund and Christie Manchester Hospital.
  • Household batteries are recycled.
  • Plastic bottles, tubs and trays are turned into new plastic products such as garden furniture.
  • Electrical items are shredded and metals and plastics are removed for recycling.

Where does it go?

  • Paper is taken to a transfer station. It is then sent to a paper mill in Kings Lynn, Norfolk and made into newsprint.
  • Plastic bottles are taken to a recycling sorting facility owned by Biffa. The waste is separated before it is sent onwards for recycling to make new products.

How is the Council helping residents to avoid contamination of bins in pilot areas?

  • Bins in pilot areas have been labelled with stickers saying what goes in each bin.
  • Bin lid colours have been changed so they can be easily identified.
  • Residents have received an information pack, which includes a guide to using the communal recycling bins.
  • Lamppost signs advising people what they can recycle have been put up in the streets.
  • Posters have been put up in tenement stairs.
  • Pavement stencils will be used to point out recycling banks.
  • Our environmental wardens can fine businesses if they are found to be using domestic waste and recycling bins for their business use.
  • Keeping Edinburgh a clean and attractive place to live and visit has been reflected in this year’s Council budget, which protects essential services like rubbish collection and street cleansing

If you would like to find out more information about recycling, take a look at our website recycling pages or by calling 0131 529 3000.


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