Stockport Council's waste and recycling team explain what happens to your rubbish once it leaves your bin

Whilst Stockport is currently the top performing borough for recycling in Greater Manchester, we still have a responsibility to ensure we maintain our commitment to recycling.

However, you might be wondering, ‘what happens to my recycling once it has been collected?’

Recycling contributes so much more than simply reducing the amount of waste that is ultimately sent to landfills, although very little waste from households in Greater Manchester goes to landfill with the majority being converted into energy. Of course, while recycling is crucial in reducing our waste, the best way to reduce your impact on the environment is to be considerate and only buy what you need.

Recycling paper and cardboard can help to save trees and forests, recycling plastics means that less new plastic is being produced and we can re-use materials such as metals and glass to reduce our impact on the environment.

Stockport Council wants to be transparent about how the recycling process works - from residents putting their bins out to the final result and highlighting the impact an individual can have on the entire process.

Recycle For Greater Manchester (R4GM) which is part of Greater Manchester Combined Authority, works with nine out of ten local councils across Greater Manchester to encourage residents to manage their waste responsibly and correctly.

Once your waste and recycling are collected, it is brought to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) located in Gatley on Longley Lane. GMCA recycling facilities, such as the one in Adswood and Bredbury Parkway, are operated by SUEZ on behalf of GMCA. However, Gatley’s centre is the only one with a Materials Recovery Facility.

The bin lorries that carry your waste to the facility are all uniquely coded, letting SUEZ know exactly where it has come from.

Upon arrival at the facility, workers have a limited time to sort and check through the waste, and if there is too much contamination the entire load is rejected.

Currently, there is a huge issue with the contamination of paper and cardboard recyclables across Greater Manchester. However, more specifically, Stockport has an ongoing issue with incorrect types of plastic being thrown away, as only plastic bottles can be collected.

This is because there are many different types of plastic and in Greater Manchester, we can only collect plastic bottles because there is a sustainable market for them, and we can guarantee they will be recycled, we can’t with other types of plastic yet.

Therefore, it is essential we know what is allowed to be in our bins. More information can be found on the bins and recycling section of Stockport Council’s website.

A MRF facility is capable of processing around 200 tons of waste every day. Everything from plastic bottles, glass, aluminium and steel cans is put through a rigorous process and workers are on hand to help remove any remaining contaminants or problematic materials.

No recycling actually takes place at the MRF. Instead, once materials have been sorted into their various categories, they are then taken to be reprocessed into new products.

In terms of general waste, this is taken directly by rail to Runcorn Energy Recovery Facility, where it is used to help power the nearby Inovyn plant supplying around 30% of the plant’s daily energy requirements. Food and garden waste is delivered to In-Vessel Composting Facilities where it is transformed into compost.

Councillor Mark Roberts, Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “We’re thrilled that Stockport is the number one borough in Greater Manchester for responsible recycling, but we recognise that there is absolutely more we can do to maximise our recycling rates and improve our standing across the UK. It is entirely right that the majority of our waste and recycling is disposed of locally, ensuring a minimal carbon footprint. Whist we are currently unable to recycle all materials at a Greater Manchester level it is key we all play our part as local residents. Taking simple steps like separating your rubbish and ensuring it isn’t contaminated everyone in Stockport can help to ensure our impact on the planet is kept to a minimum. Work is ongoing to see if the list of recyclable items can be increased moving forward.”

We hope to continue to be the number one borough in Greater Manchester for responsible recycling, which is why we are encouraging residents to be mindful of what can and can’t be recycled, take steps to learn more about the recycling process and help contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

If you require assistance with putting your bins out, you can request help on Stockport Council’s webpage here.

For further information on what happens to your waste, please visit Recycle For Greater Manchester’s website where you can also sign up for a free Education Centre visit.