What Happens To Recycled Packaging in The UK
Recycled packaging in the UK goes on a journey even after you have put it into your recycling boxes. Because of different factors recycled packaging boxes have become incredibly common, in fact it is harder to purchase a product now that cannot be recycled than it is to buy one that can be. But what really happens to your recycled packaging when it is collected by your bin men? Where is it taken and how is it sorted, and does it even get fully recycled? In this article we will discuss exactly what household materials can be recycled as well as where the recycling will be taken by the waste management authorities.
What materials can be recycled?
As technology has progressed, more and more materials can now be recycled. Because of the need for renewable materials, technology has been forced to progress in order to recycle more and more different products. Initially, the first materials that were recycled were metals and cardboard. Now you can recycle these as well as many more. Some of the materials that you can now recycle include:
- Cardboard – Recycled packaging boxes
- Metals – Tin cans and objects
- Glass – Jars, bottles etc
- Paper – All forms of paper
- Wood – Scrap wood, including chippings
Whilst the majority of these materials can be placed in regular household waste receptacles such as red recycling boxes or yellow and blue bags, more heavy-duty materials such as metal and wood will need to be taken to a specialist site such as your local rubbish tip. Whilst it may seem like the items taken here simply end up in landfill, they are regularly recycled, much the same as your household waste.
Where does recycling go?
But whereabouts does recycled packing in the UK end up once it has been taken from the tip or from the recycling boxes outside your homes on collection day? Around 45% of all waste in the UK is recyclable and will need to be handled at specialist sites across the country. The majority of the waste generated by the population will be taken to recycling sites where it will then be sorted and distributed into its set category, for example, plastic. After the waste has been sorted, the non-recyclable material will then be sent to landfill or incineration sites where it will be disposed of.
The side that may go unnoticed about recycled packaging in the UK is that a lot will be outsourced to other countries. In 2019 the BBC noted that we send the following amount of plastic to:
- Over 100,000 tonnes to Malaysia
- Over 80,000 tonnes to Turkey
- Over 60,000 tonnes to Poland
- Over 60,000 tonnes to Indonesia
- Over 60,000 tonnes to the Netherlands
As well as these countries, China are one of the largest importers of waste in the world and have previously recycled up to 95% of the worlds plastic. This makes it a very lucrative business, attracting countries around the world to import, rather than export, their waste.
What happens to recycling packaging in the UK?
The process of actually recycling a product will differ depending on what material it is made out of. For the sake of this example, we will explore the process of getting recycled packaging boxes made out of cardboard.
- The cardboard will need to be shredded at a processing facility. It will be sorted and stripped of any other materials that could change it’s properties, such as plastic labels.
- Once the card has been shredded it will then be mixed with water and broken down into a pulp or paste. This is then filtered using a centrifugal system that separates the card from any other materials.
- More water is then added, and the mixture is pulped further. Chemicals are added to the mixture to add characteristics to the new cardboard such as water resistance.
- The pulp is then rolled and dried as it can be around 90% water. This is done by using vacuum rollers, vibrating conveyor belts and steam heating to remove the water and create a solid sheet of brown paper. This paper is then converted into brand new cardboard by compression into much larger, heavy sheets. These can be converted into all forms of card from regular to corrugated.
If you would like to purchase a product with completely recyclable packaging, Panda Soft toilet paper is perfect for you. Our packaging is completely free of plastic and is of the highest standard of recycled packaging in the UK.