Where does your recycling go?

A variety of commercial companies turn your recycling into good, economically valuable stuff. Recycling is a global industry, of course, so they're not always in the UK, but currently 77% of Surrey's waste is treated or recycled in the UK.

Here's an overview of where your recycling goes.You may notice changes to when you looked at this page last time. That's because market conditions change all the time, and your recycling is sent where it is currently economic to recycle it (latest data for January - March 2023). What do these companies do with your recycling?

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Most of our paper goes to Malaysia or India. A small amount goes to Thailand, or to Norfolk and Essex in the UK.


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India, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia each take approximately a quarter of the cardboard we collect for recycling. A small amount goes to Vietnam. 


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All steel cans are recycled around the UK, at plants in South Wales, Yorkshire and Buckinghamshire.

Aluminium cans are recycled in either Greece or Germany.


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Glass is recycled in the UK, at plants in Yorkshire, Essex or Sussex.


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There are lots of different types of plastic, so they get recycled in different places. For example most opaque plastic bottles (HDPE plastic) are recycled in Bristol, and most clear bottles (PET plastic) are recycled in Lincolnshire.

Other plastics go to Kent, Lincolnshire and Teeside.

Why do we recycle fewer plastics now?

Food waste

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Food is recycled at plants in Hertfordshire and Essex.

Garden waste

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Garden waste is composted in various places, all in the UK, notably in Sussex, near Chichester and in Hampshire.

Get your garden waste calendar. Join our garden waste recycling service.

Will even more be recycled in the UK in future?

We hope so. The government has set out its waste strategy for England, part of which seeks to encourage recycling plants and new recycling technologies within the UK.

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