How is it recycled?
Have you ever wondered what happens to plastic bottles after you recycle them?
How food waste is recycled? What happens to recycled metal after it’s melted down?
Our animations take you on the journeys of some of the most common household recycling:
Recycling food waste
Wasted food has a big impact on climate change, if it ends up in landfill sites it rots and releases methane into the environment which is a damaging greenhouse gas.
The best thing we can do with our food is enjoy it…but some waste like egg shells, banana skins, meat and fish bones and tea bags is inevitable.
It’s important that we all recycle our food waste. All councils in Wales now collect food waste with the service now available to over 90% of the Welsh population.
In Wales, our food waste is treated in one of two ways:
The first method, Anaerobic Digestion
The second, In-vessel composting,
Watch the video to see how it’s done!
Recycling paper waste
In the UK, we get through twelve point five million tonnes of paper each year.
Recycling paper reduces energy use, Co2 and diverts paper waste from landfill, where it rots and produces greenhouse gases.
Watch the video and see how recycled paper can be reused.
Recycling metal cans
Last year in the UK, we recycled around 3.5 billion aluminium cans. That’s enough to stretch around the world over 10 times!
Here’s how we do it…
Cans are sorted from other waste, either by hand or by machine. The cans are then divided into metal types using magnets. Steel cans are separated, leaving aluminium cans to be shredded into small pieces. These small pieces of aluminium are then formed into blocks.
The blocks are then put into a furnace and heated to over 750°C. Chemicals are added to improve the quality of the molten metal, which is then poured into moulds, cooled by a curtain of water and gradually formed into an ingot. The ingots are 10 meters long, weigh 27 tonnes and contain enough aluminium for over 1.5 million aluminium drink cans.
At the rolling mill, ingots are rolled into very thin sheets and taken to a manufacturing plant to be made into more cans, which can be back on the shelves in just 6 weeks!
Watch the video to see metal recycling in action.
Recycling glass bottles
In the UK, we recycle around 60% of our glass bottles and jars but with a little effort, this could be as high as 90%.
Using recycled glass saves energy, Co2, and raw materials, as well as reducing landfill.
After bottles are collected, separated from other waste and sorted by colour, they arrive at the processing facility and are crushed into small pieces called "cullet".
Contaminants, are removed from the cullet using magnets, air suction, and laser sorters
The cullet is melted in a furnace at over fifteen hundred °c and certain key ingredients are added
The liquid glass is then divided into 'gobs', which can be blown or pressed into brand new bottles and jars and, because glass is such a great material, it can be recycled indefinitely!
Find out more by watching the animation.
Recycling plastic bottles
In Wales we use around 725,000 plastic bottles a day. Most of these can be recycled into really useful things. Here’s how:
Recycling drink cartons
As a British nation we use around 57,000 tonnes of cartons every year – that’s the same as the weight of 331 blue whales!
Luckily, recycling cartons is now much easier, meaning less will end up in landfill.
Top Tip: Squashing cartons before recycling means they take up a third less space, helping to keep trucks off the road.
Find out how they’re recycled by watching the animation.
Recycling electrical items
Old and broken electrical items may seem worthless, but in fact, they’re full of valuable materials
Council recycling centres collect waste electrical items, which are then taken to a reprocessing plant, where they are shredded into small pieces, ready to be recycled.
So remember: don’t bin your waste electrical item…take them down to your local recycling centre or even better, if they work, find them a new home by getting them reused by donating them or selling them on.
Organic, compostable waste produced from your garden
14% of our rubbish is organic garden waste.
If sent to landfill, it will release methane, which is twenty three times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Luckily, around 95% of local authorities in the UK collect garden waste for composting. Alternatively, garden waste can be composted at home by mixing it with other organic waste such as veg peelings and cereal boxes.
Watch the video to see how this is done.