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Where your recycling and rubbish goes

Find out what happens to your recycling, food, garden and general waste.

What happens to my recycling?

The recycling crew collect your recycling and transport it to the Materials Recovery Facility operated by Bywaters in Stratford where it's separate by inspectors and specialist machines.

Watch the recycling centre in action

After sorting, the material is sold and transported to reprocessing facilities throughout the UK. Some of the materials you recycle have a completely new lease of life - recycled cans for instance can become car or aeroplane parts, and recycled glass can be used in building materials. 

What happens to my food waste?

Over 7,000 tonnes of food waste produced by Lewisham residents every year - which is equivalent to over 550 double-decker buses. It's sent for anaerobic digestion at the East London Biogas plant, which turns waste into energy for local homes and fertiliser for the agricultural sector.

The food waste is separated from its compostable bin lining and pumped into an anaerobic digestion tank where it produces a biogas that's converted into energy. The digested waste also produces a digestate fertiliser which can be used on local farms to help grow crops.

What happens to my garden waste?

Lewisham’s garden waste is turned into compost at a specialist plant. This is then used to fertilise parks.

What happens to my household rubbish?

The refuse crews collect your black bin rubbish and transport it to the South East London Combined Heat & Power Energy Recovery Facility (SELCHP) in New Cross.

Once the options of waste reduction, reuse and recycling are exhausted, residual waste is sent to SELCHP to produce power for the National Grid, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and providing us with energy from a constantly renewable source. In fact, SELCHP produces enough electricity to power around 48,000 homes. Take a virtual tour around the SELCHP facility

Modern energy recovery facilities such as SELCHP operate under strict environmental controls, using the mass-burn process to incinerate waste at temperatures where potentially harmful chemicals are destroyed.

Residues and flue gases are carefully treated to ensure that potential pollutants are not allowed to enter the atmosphere.

After the incineration process has finished, leftover metals are extracted and sent to be recycled.

Finally, the incinerator bottom ash is also able to be used as a secondary aggregate in both road construction and the building industry.

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