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What happens to your recycling?

Have you ever wondered what happens to all your recycling and rubbish after it’s been collected?  

86% of the recycling and rubbish generated by households across Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton is treated or reprocessed in the UK.  The remaining 14% is sent abroad.*

All of the materials we send abroad are recycled – we only work with reputable companies who go to great lengths to ensure that the materials are handled carefully and in an environmentally friendly way. 

* Figures based on 2018/2019 Waste Data Flow 

‘Destination Recycling’ – a short film telling the story of what happens to your recycling and rubbish 

This five-minute film tells the story of what happens to your recycling and rubbish; where its taken and what it’s turned in to.  Don’t have five minutes to spare?  Shorter versions of the film are available below.

Download a transcript of this video.

Want to know more? 

Further information (along with shorter versions of the ‘Destination Recycling‘ film) is available below focusing on each particular type of recycling and rubbish:


Food waste

Watch the film:

Download a transcript of this video

Taken to: Sutton (Beddington Lane) or Kingston (Villiers Road) where it is bulked before being transported in HGVs to an anaerobic digestion facility in Chertsey, Surrey.

Turned into: An organic fertilizer that farmers use to help grow their crops.  The gasses produced during the digestion process (which takes about 75 days) are captured and used to drive a turbine which generates electricity.  The electricity is fed into the National Grid. The facility in Chertsey produces enough electricity to power thousands of homes.  

More information: For more information on the anaerobic digestion process, visit the Agrivert website.


Paper and card

Watch the film:

Download a transcript of this video

Taken to: Croydon (Stubbs Mead Depot) or Kingston (Villiers Road) where it is bulked before being transported in HGVs to paper mills across the UK; like the UPM Paper Mill in Shotton, north Wales, or the DS Smith paper mill in Kemsley, Kent.

Turned into: More paper-based products.  The waste paper and card is washed to remove inks, staples and glues, and then mixed with water to create a slurry.  By adding different materials to this slurry, a variety of paper-based products can be created.

More information: For more information on the paper and card recycling process, watch this video from Recycle Now: paper – how is it recycled?


Plastics, glass, cans and cartons

Watch the film:

Download a transcript of this video

Taken to: Kingston (Villiers Road), Sutton (Beddington Lane) or Croydon (Endeavour Way) where it is bulked before being transported in HGVs to a recycling sorting facility.  Here the materials are sorted and separated by machines and by hand. Around 80% of our plastics, glass, cans and cartons are taken to a sorting facility operated by Veolia in Rainham.  The remaining 20% goes to facilities in Crayford, Bristol, Birmingham and Rochford. Once the recycling has been sorted, it is baled (squashed into cubes) and sold on to reprocessors who turn the materials into new products.  

Turned into: 

More information: For more information watch the following videos:


Rubbish (non-recyclable general waste)

Watch the film:

Download a transcript of this video

Taken to: An energy from waste facility operated by our partner, Viridor, in Beddington, Sutton

Turned into: Energy – the Beddington Energy Recovery Facility burns the rubbish at very high temperatures in strictly controlled conditions.  This super-heats water in special boilers which produces steam and drives a turbine to generate electricity – and lots of it: the facility produces enough electricity to power itself plus 55,000 homes.  It also delivers low-carbon hot water and heating to thousands of local homes.

More information: For more information please visit our Beddington Energy Recovery Facility page: The Beddington Energy Recovery Facility.


Garden waste

Note: Garden waste is collected from the homes of people who subscribe to the service – non-subscribers can take garden waste to their local Household Reuse and Recycling Centre

Taken to: Sutton (Beddington Lane) and Kingston (Villiers Road) where it is bulked before being transported by HGVs to one of seven composting facilities located in East Sussex (Isfield, Lewes), West Sussex (Chichester, Crawley, Tangmere), Kent (Swanley) and Essex (Colchester). They are operated by four specialist companies: KPS Composting Services, The Woodhorn Group, Tamar Organics and Birch Airfield Composting Services. 

Turned into: High quality, peat-free compost and soil conditioning products.    

More information: Please visit your local council’s website for more information on the Garden Waste Collection Service.


Thanks to the efforts of residents, the four Partner Boroughs are all making good progress in increasing their recycling rates and reducing the amount of waste that is sent for treatment or disposal.  It would be a great shame if residents were discouraged from recycling because they lacked confidence that their efforts are worthwhile. Above all, residents of Croydon, Kingston, Merton and Sutton should rest assured that their recycling efforts are very worthwhile and appreciated.