What happens to my recycling?
Where does my recycling go?
The material from your yellow-lidded recycling bin is collected by a contractor and delivered to our recycling processor.
The material is sorted and processed at a Material Recovery Facility (MRF), where recycling is separated into material types (paper, cardboard, plastic, aluminium, other metals and glass). The materials are also graded based on quality.
Millions of tonnes of valuable materials are recovered. These are then purchased by manufacturers who turn them into new products.
How different materials are processed
Newsprint, junk mail and other mixed paper materials are known as Grade 6 paper. It is mainly exported overseas for re-use in newsprint, boxes, cardboard and recycled paperboard. SKM is a commercial business and where it sells this material depends on market prices. There is a large market for good quality Grade 6 paper.
This is bundled and sold locally and overseas to paper and cardboard manufactures. Most is used to make new cardboard products.
Plastic materials are sorted into the following types:
- Natural HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) e.g. milk containers
- Coloured HDPE e.g. shampoo bottles
- Clear PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) e.g. soft drink, water bottles
- Green PET e.g. lemonade bottles
- Coloured PP (Polypropylene) e.g. ice cream containers
- Mixed plastic all other rigid plastic containers
- Soft plastics e.g. shopping bags, bread bags etc.
All these plastics are processed locally and overseas, to be made into raw materials that are added to new plastic products.
Aluminium is a very valuable and well-recycled product. Aluminium is sold to overseas recyclers, where it is heated and melted and recycled back into new aluminium cans and other products. Aluminium can be recycled time and time again without ever losing quality, which makes it perfect for recycling.
All other metal from the MRF is sold locally and overseas and is recycled into new products. The amount of metal collected that SKM processes has increased since it became possible to recycle pots and pans in kerbside recycling.
Glass is the largest component of the recycling bin by weight and makes up about 26% of the material sent to the processing facility.
Mixed glass is screened at the MRF and then sent to a glass recovery facility where high-technology processing equipment:
- sorts the glass by size
- removes contaminants such as food waste
- sorts glass into three colours – amber, green and clear
The clean and sorted glass is then sold to be re-used to make new glass bottles.
Glass under 8mm in size is crushed and used in many ways including:
- glass bottles
- in insulation
- as a sand replacement
- added to road base
- as a clean fill replacement
- as landfill capping.
Finally, once all of the recoverable materials are taken out, some waste remains (approximately 5-10%) which goes to landfill. This material is made of things people shouldn’t have put in their yellow lidded bin and a very small amount of items that were too small to be captured or got damaged along the way. The recycling industry and Council are always looking for ways to increase the types of materials that are recyclable and prevent them from ending up in landfill.
How can I reduce waste to landfill?
You can do your bit by sticking to the list of products that are acceptable in your recycling bin and buying ‘recycled content’ items where possible - this will mean we always have a viable market for recycling.
You can also prevent waste being created by:
- not using single use items such as plastic bags and water bottles
- finding creative ways to reuse things before disposing
- buying products with minimal packaging.