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‘Waste not, want not’: Where does our recycling go?


‘Waste not, want not’: Where does our recycling go?

By sgrmerce 03 Dec 2019

That empty bottle of lemonade left over from your most recent party could one day become a picnic bench if only it is recycled correctly. But sorting our rubbish is only the first leg on the journey of remaking our waste. At a local level, Gillmoss Material Recovery Centre tackles mountains of recycling every day, sending it off to processing plants across the country. A group of students paid a visit to Gillmoss to learn about the realities of recycling here in Liverpool.

Gillmoss use the latest technologies to separate the recyclables from Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton and Halton. The materials from these items is then delivered to centres to be remade into clothing, toys, furniture, building materials and a second wave of plastic packaging. Recycling has a huge potential to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill each year. “Recycling is often a minor consideration in our lives but it has a huge impact to our environment,” one visiting student said.

Recycling is processed at a rate of 25,000 tonnes every hour at Gillmoss, however this is not as efficient as it could be. Approximately 20% of all the rubbish delivered to Gillmoss is unrecyclable. This contaminates the other waste and slows down the process. People have mistakenly recycled everything from greasy pizza boxes to entire water butts and flotation aids! “It’s a bit like where’s Wally spotting all the rubbish to be sorted!” commented another student.

Without this kind of contamination, Gillmoss could process 35,000 tonnes of recycling every hour. This is why it is so crucial to know what you can put in your bin.

There are some surprising items that can and can’t be recycled. It just takes a few minutes of reading to transform from a confused beginner to an instinctive recycler.

Plastic bottles of all varieties are most welcome at Gillmoss. They ask that the lids are left on and you empty any leftovers before you chuck these into your recycling bin. A big revelation was that foil and aluminium trays cannot be recycled at Gillmoss. When it comes to non-recyclables such as these, it is more a case of reduce rather than recycle. The guidance for halls recycling is:

  1. Recycle all plastic bottles.
  2. Paper and cardboard are all recyclable.
  3. Drinks cans are great, just don’t crunch them up.
  4. Recycle your glass in the appropriate bin.
  5. Make sure everything is clean and dry!

All other waste should go in the general waste bin.

Visiting Gillmoss Materials Recovery Facility is an eye opening experience. Students from across the university were in agreement that “Gillmoss is welcoming for everybody, it doesn’t matter what course.”

One student commented that, “It was great to see the factory and how recycling happens. This information is stuff everyone should know.” Our waste definitely runs of the risk of being out of sight and out of mind. But visiting Gillmoss Materials Recovery Facility makes the whole process more tangible. You can now imagine your lemonade bottle as it travels from your bin to Gillmoss and beyond.