Does it end up in a giant bin? On a bonfire? In a landfill site? Can they really sort dirty tissues from sandwich bags? Is there a fat-cat-scrapyard owner jangling gold is his pockets but dumping our waste in his backyard? At Euromonitor we are serious about understanding and reducing our impact on the environment, to find out more about what happens to our recycling I decided to pay a visit to the plant receiving the waste from our London offices.
The answer, I discovered lies in state of the art technology. There are bag splitting machines and giant screws which jiggle waste allowing smaller items to fall through. Plastic bottles whizz under a scanner to differentiate plastic types. Steel cans are magnetically drawn out of the general mess. But it’s not all wizardry and robotics: two large manual pick cabins are staffed 24 hours a day to pull out materials which have gone in the wrong direction, such as clothes in non-recyclable materials.
Finally around 95% of the material processed is sorted, baled and sold on to be used to make new products such as children’s toys, guitars and garden furniture. So next time you’re hesitating about which bin to put your waste in, make you get it in the right one!