How we recycle your waste
After your waste is collected by your local district and borough councils or taken to one of our household waste recycling centres, what happens to it depends on what it is.
Find out more about how we process and recycle different materials in Kent.
Almost all the recyclable waste we receive is processed and separated into individual materials for recycling at local Materials Recycling Facilities (MRF).
Around 36,000 tonnes of food waste is collected in Kent, and is taken to an anaerobic digester at Blaise Farm Quarry near Kings Hill to be turned into biogas. Anaerobic digestion is the process of breaking down food without the use of oxygen.
The biogas is fed to the national grid as well as powering the plant itself. The gas and electricity produced from the food waste is enough to power 3,600 homes as well as produce farm fertiliser.
Our video explains how the anaerobic digestion plant works to recycle food waste.
No food waste is sent to landfill. It’s still better to use the food you buy and reduce food waste, go to the Love Food Hate Waste website to get tips for food storage and recipes.
You can find out more about the anaerobic digestion process on the Wrap website.
Plastics collected from households are used for recycling and remanufacturing. They are sorted into their various types and transported to reprocessing facilities where they are washed and refined into flakes and pellets or, are sold back into the manufacturing industry, for example the production of plastic milk containers.
The plastics are all sorted into their various polymer types in the UK. Existing and new UK and European markets receive the plastics for their reprocessing and remanufacture into new products.
We work closely with our contractors to ensure the materials they process on our behalf are handled by responsible, ethical and UK Environment Agency Licenced companies.
Plastics we can't recycle
We don't currently have the facility to recycle large rigid plastic items such as children’s play equipment. These are sent to be shredded and used as refuse derived fuel (RDF) within Europe.
Tips for using less plastic
- Avoid using disposable bags when shopping by taking a reusable bag with you.
- Avoid individually wrapped items and snack packs, buy in bigger sizes which have less wrapping and use less material.
- Buy laundry detergent and home cleaning products in more concentrated formulas to avoid unnecessary packaging.
- Buy recycled and biodegradable items where possible.
- Avoid using single use plastic bottles for water, use a reusable bottle.
- Switch to a reusable coffee cup.
- Use beeswax wraps for storing food or packed lunches and picnics instead of cling film and plastic bags.
Find out how much money and plastic could be saved by switching to:
- reusable water bottle - watch the BBC Plastics Watch video - Why you need one of these
- keep-cups - watch the BBC Plastics Watch video - What keeping a keep-cup can do.
Paper and card can easily be recycled. Make sure you separate it and it's clean, dry and ready for collection. Your local district council has details of how they collect paper and card for recycling.
The collected paper and card is send to the paper mill in Snodland for processing.
Paper and card can be recycled approximately 7 times and even the fibres that cannot be made into paper again are recycled into other products, for example they can be used as compost.
Last year Kent recycled nearly 30,000 tonnes of paper and card.
Our video explains how paper and card is recycled at the paper mill.
Glass in your recycling bin is separated from other recyclable materials at a sorting facility.
The glass is then taken to a reprocessing plant where it:
- is washed to remove any impurities
- sorted by colour
- crushed into small pieces called cullet.
The cullet is then ready to be reused, melted and shaped into new bottles and jars.
Our video explains what happens at the reprocessing plant to glass you put in your recycling bin.
Garden waste is taken to large composting halls, then a process called in-vessel composting (IVC) provides the optimum conditions for the waste to compost in terms of:
- carbon-nitrogen ratio
The waste is heated up to 60°C for a minimum of 16 days while being turned every 48 hours to kill off any harmful microbes. After treatment, the compost is screened and left to stabilise to ensure a nutrient-rich and peat-free compost that is suitable to use as a soil improver in farming and agriculture.
It is fast, effective and meets regulatory requirements for sanitation required by the Animal By-Product Regulations (ABPR) as well as PAS100 quality requirements.
Abandoned vehicles are also recycled in Kent.
Vehicles are taken to a licenced facility in Thanet and almost all parts are recycled.
There is no need to abandon your vehicle as the same facility would be happy to pay for it. Simply fill in our vehicle surrender form and we will do the rest for you.
If you suspect a vehicle has been abandoned, you can report it to your district council. Vehicles will not be removed if they are taxed and insured.
Our video explains what happens to vehicles so the parts can be recycled:
Other types of glass such as Pyrex, glass ovenware, wine glasses, flutes, tumblers, window panes and mirror glass melt at a different temperature to glass bottles and jars, so can’t be recycled in the same way and should not be put in your recycling bin.
We can use non-recyclable waste to generate electricity. A renewable energy source that makes sure that waste is put to good use. This is all done at a waste to energy plant in Allington.
Data about what happens with waste
To find out what happens to Kent’s household waste and recycling, including the type of waste, how much was collected, where it was sent and how it was treated view the data on where our waste and recycling goes.