What happens to our waste?

Increased public awareness about the environment, recycling and waste has created an unprecedented interest in what happens to the recycling and waste that is collected by the Council, where it is taken for treatment and where it ends up.

All the material collected for recycling across Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham is initially sorted or processed within the UK.  But once this is done, the recycled material is sometimes sent abroad to be manufactured into new items in specialist factories.

This movement of raw or recycled materials around the world is necessary for an efficient manufacturing process.  One example of this is green glass.  In the UK we import a large amount of beer and wine from Europe which is bottled in green glass.  Once collected for recycling and separated from other items, it is more efficient to return it to countries like France and Spain so they can use it to manufacture more green glass bottles on site there.  

Waste is one of the most highly legislated and regulated industries both in the UK and around the world.  To export waste from the UK a trans-frontier document is required. This sets out the type of waste being transported, where it is destined for (including the route it will take) and what will happen to it once it has arrived until it becomes a product.  A trans-frontier document also acts as an agreement between the exporter and importer of the waste that if it is not suitable for the agreed process or is not able to reach its intended location, it is to be returned to the exporter at their cost.  Such an agreement is designed to ensure that only suitable, correctly classified materials are exported and that the responsibility for this lies with the exporter.   This is designed to prevent people or companies from exporting dangerous, unsuitable or mis-classified wastes. 

Every time a Council or their contractor sends waste abroad, this rigorous process is applied and strict records are kept and checks made to ensure that all parties involved are working safely, sensibly and legally for the benefit of the environment.

These strict regulations are necessary because of the variable nature of waste and recycling markets with costs fluctuating daily and sometimes by large amounts.  This means the final destinations of waste can change regularly based on supply, demand, quality and price or cost.  The destinations may change, but the strict regulations and restrictions remain the same.