Where does your recycling end up?
As we recycle more and more, we explore where these materials are going.
In recent years, the UK government has made huge efforts to encourage people to recycle more. While some people have welcomed the change, others have suggested the rate of change has been difficult to adapt to. While the UK still lags behind some European nations, there can be no doubt recycling is on the rise.
Chinese landfill, Space & Beyond?
With the huge decrease in waste going to landfill, many people have speculated about where all the new materials are going to. In 2004 the Guardian reported that tonnes of British plastic was sent to China and sorted there, creating negative press around recycling. Given the time and resources used by the government to discourage landfill use, people were quick to note that outsourcing landfill was hardly progress.
While these reports were damaging, they also encouraged more transparency around the issue and opened more positive debates. Local councils began to better answer the question of how recycling is dealt with and its benefits. (The BBC’s Future segment even went as far as explaining why waste could not be sent to space!)
More of the same
Interestingly, a lot of recycling finds its way back to you in its original form. All newspapers in the UK are made from 100% recycled paper. Glass follows suit as over 80% of glass collected is used to make bottles and jars again. With 50,000 bottle banks in the UK, glass recycling produces less CO2 than making glass from scratch, the result is 752,000 tons of glass recycling every year.
Aluminium cans are also widely recycled, and can go from recycling plant back to supermarket shelf in a mere 60 days. Of the staggering 9 billion cans produced annually in the UK, 80% are made from aluminium. ReGen reduce the volume going to landfill through our automated sorting processes. Aluminium is the Earth’s second most used metal, so recycling it is vital.
Some recycled materials go on to live a completely different life after processing. Coats, roads and car parts are all produced using recycled materials. Sorted plastics can go on to face the elements in winter jackets, other plastics make ‘trashionable’ comebacks as shoes and even spectacles.
Not only are products made with recycled materials, they can be improved. Roads made from reprocessed plastics are expected to last 3 times longer than asphalt. Developers in this area expect roads of the future to be less affected by daily wear and even flooding. Other surfaces made from recyclables include children's play parks and domestic tiling.
Find out more about how we process your waste and reduce the amount sent to landfill through our innovative processing techniques and bespoke machinery.