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What Happens To Your Waste?

When we throw away our rubbish into the bin, many of us rarely consider what happens to your waste from that point onwards. Business who use a waste management service such as ours know that they can expect their bins to be picked up and emptied into a truck, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess.

 

In this post, we will go through the most common waste types produced by UK businesses and let you know how each type is dealt with from storage, to transfer, to disposal.


 

 

General Waste

This is one type of waste that people will, on the whole, know how it is disposed of. General waste is the most commonly produced waste stream by businesses and the majority of it ends up in landfill.

 

Landfill is a site where general waste is taken to and buried under the ground. However, we have been using these sites for such a long time that now they are overflowing and piling up above the surface level.

 

With the aid of modern technology, however, we can dispose of general waste in alternative ways. We can, for instance, turn some of it into energy by burning it into a gas or we can recover useful materials to make into fuel through a process called solid-recovery. You can read more about this in our ‘General Waste Collection: What, How, and Why‘ blog post.


 

 

Dry-Mixed Recycling

What happens to your recycling waste at the first stage is fairly straight forward. It is taken to a facility where it is separated into individual materials such as card, paper, aluminium, and plastic. From here it gets a little bit more complicated.

 

These materials are all then recycled in their own way. Paper and cardboard, for instance, are separated into 4 different grades depending on quality. They are then shredded and baled and sent to a paper mill. The paper is then mixed with water in order to turn it into a pulp, where it can then be dried and pressed into new sheets of paper.

 

Aluminium cans are crushed into bales and sent to a recycling facility where they are shredded and cleaned and melted into blocks for reuse.

 

Plastics are separated into their polymer type so that their melting temperature can be determined. The plastics are then melted and recast into new products. You can find out more about plastic recycling here.


 

 

Food Waste

After your food waste is collected from your business bins, the waste is taken off to be recycled. There are two main ways food waste is recycled: Anaerobic Digestion and In-vessel Composting.

 

Anaerobic Digestion is the process of using bacteria to break down the food in order to produce biofuel. In-vessel Composting is the process of mixing food waste with garden waste and letting it sit in precise temperature conditions in a container for a period of time before it becomes fertile soil.

 

You can find out more and watch some quick videos explaining these processes on our ‘Food Waste Recycling What, How, and Why‘ blog post.


 

 

Glass Waste

Glass waste is taken to a treatment facility where it is broken down into smaller pieces called cullets. These cullets are then washed to remove contaminants and then separated into colours if needed. This is then mixed with other strengthening materials and melted in order to make new products such as bottles and jars.

 

You can read more about glass waste in our ‘Glass Recycling: What, How, and Why?’ blog post.


 

 

Hazardous Waste

This type of waste is quite a broad category and depending on the specific type of hazardous waste, the waste will be treated in different ways. It could be made into energy, mixed into cement, recycled into new products, incinerated, or sent to a specialist landfill site as a final disposal method.

 

You can read more about hazardous waste disposal in our ‘Hazardous Waste Collection: What, How, and Why?‘ blog post.


 

 

Clinical Waste

There are two main types of clinical waste: infectious, and offensive. How your clinical waste is disposed of after it is collected from your bins depends on which of these two types of waste you produce.

 

If you produce infectious waste it is often incinerated to kill off infectious substances and potential contaminants. Offensive waste, on the other hand, is sterilized and/or made into biofuel.

 

You can read more about the two types of clinical waste and their differences in our ‘Clinical Waste Management: What, How, and Why?‘ blog post.