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We send all the recycling we collect in the borough to local material recovery facilities (MRFs), where it is sorted and sent on to be recycled within Europe.

How your recycling is sorted and separated 

At the MRF the different materials are sorted, separated and baled, ready to be delivered to recycling re-processors.

Separating and sorting recycling video: Video heading: See how your recycling is sorted and separated

We send all the recycling we collect in the borough to local material recovery facilities (MRFs), where it is sorted and sent on to be recycled within Europe.

What your recycling can be made into

When you recycle something, it's usually made into something new, for example:

  • cans are made into other items such as planes, cars or more cans
  • plastics are made into more plastic bottles, fleeces or garden furniture
  • glass is used to make either more glass bottles or aggregate for road surfacing
  • paper and cardboard is used to make more paper and card

Food and garden waste

When we collect your green top bin, we take your food and garden waste to the transfer station at Nathan Way, Thamesmead.

From there, it goes to one of the In-Vessel Composting (IVC) facilities in the south of England. It is then shredded and heated up to 70 degrees Celsius to kill bacteria and weed seeds.

Next, it is put into bays where it's broken down by the natural composting process into a soil improver product used for agriculture and landscaping. You can buy soil improver made from composted food and garden waste from Pro-Grow.

If you mix non-recyclable items like plastic bags or textiles with your food and garden waste, they contaminate the final product. This means it cannot be used.

Non-recyclable waste - whats left over

When we collect your black top bin and black sacks, we take them to SELCHP, an energy-from-waste facility in Lewisham.

It is burnt at very high temperatures to generate electricity to power around 48,000 households. The process can also provide excess heat and hot water for local homes.

It is better to recycle and compost as much of your household waste as you can instead of sending it for incineration.

If you put recyclable items in your black-top bin or black sacks it is lost forever during the process.

How your non-recyclable waste is turned into energy


Used household batteries are taken to the Vinton Batteries Ltd facility in Erith.

Battery types are sorted and metals like mercury and zinc are taken out for recycling.

It is much more environmentally friendly to recycle batteries because of the heavy metals they contain.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Small electrical items like broken toasters, kettles and power tools are collected from the pink containers at recycling sites.

Larger items like washing machines, fridges, televisions and cookers from bulky waste collections and the Re-use and Recycling Centre are taken to the SWEEEP facility at Sittingbourne, Kent.

Items are broken down into separate metals and plastics which are crushed and baled and then sent to different companies for recycling.

Potentially hazardous substances such as lead and mercury can be found in some electrical items. Recycling them responsibly means that these substances are removed properly and can be used again.


Textiles we collect are processed by LMB Supplies Ltd. They sort reusable clothes and shoes and send them abroad to provide clothing for people who do not have access to or cannot afford them.

Salvation Army, TRAID and Oxfam also have textile banks in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Do not put soiled or dirty textiles into the banks as it may ruin the other good quality, clean items. Try to keep shoes together by putting them in a carrier bag.