What happens to the recycling and waste collected in Stafford Borough?
We currently recycle over half of the waste collected in Stafford Borough, 28,000 tonnes was recycled or composted in 2018/19. Understandably, our residents are interested to know what happens with the contents of their bins once they have been emptied at the kerbside.
The recycling collection vehicle
A common question asked by the public is 'why should I separate the paper, it all goes in the same vehicle anyway?'
Yes the recycling does go in the same vehicle, it may appear that all recycling gets mixed together in the back of a truck but it doesn't, its kept separate as the vehicles have split bodies. There are two separate compartments on the same vehicle that are loaded and emptied separately.
Mixed recycling is in the larger 70% side, whilst the smaller 30% side is used for paper and card.
Blue Bin, Caddy and Bag - Mixed Recycling
Paper Recycling – the new Blue Bag
The previous caddy for paper has been replaced by a new blue bag for paper and cardboard mixed together. Previously, paper and cardboard was contaminated in the blue bin by broken glass which affected the quality. By keeping paper and cardboard separate they can now be sent straight to UK paper mills for recycling.
The mixed recycling collected in your blue bin is taken to our depot in Stafford to be transferred into larger vehicles, it's then transported to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). Our current facility is in Four Ashes near Cannock.
When the vehicles arrive at the MRF the loads are inspected for contamination, if the contamination levels are too high then the whole load can be rejected and treated as general waste.
The cost of reloading and disposing of the contaminated loads as general waste is passed back to the Council. This is why it is so important that you put the right materials in the right bins.
Once the load has been approved the contents are placed on a series of conveyor belts and sorted using machinery from rotating drums and magnets to infra red lasers and air jets with some manual sorting. The separated materials are then baled and are ready for distribution to manufacturers to make into new products. With the recent changes to the blue bin and the introduction of the blue bag, we can ensure that all recycling collected is reprocessed in the UK and not sent overseas.
For an example of an MRF in action you can watch Veolia Shropshire's short film on YouTube.
Green Bin – General Waste
No waste collected in the general waste bins is sent to landfill and hasn’t been for over 10 years.
Instead it's sent to generate energy at two Energy Recovery Facilities (ERFs), one in Stoke and one in Four Ashes near Cannock.
An Energy Recovery Facility uses your waste to generate electricity. The waste is used instead of coal, oil or gas to produce energy.
To see an ERF in action you can visit VeoliaUK's YouTube - Veolia Staffordshire.
Brown Bin – Garden Waste
The contents of your brown bin are taken to a local facility near Stone to be composted. Stafford Borough Council does not receive any income from the onward sale of the compost.
The garden waste is laid out in rows (known as windrows) on a concrete pad and turned periodically by machinery, the garden waste breaks down naturally to make a material similar to compost that can be used to improve the soil.
This process takes around three months dependent on weather conditions.