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Cambridge City Council

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Where your recycling and waste goes

Blue bin - recycling

When the blue bin lorries are full, they take the recycling to the 'Materials Recycling Facility' (MRF) at the Amey Waste Management Park near Waterbeach (on the A10).

Once at the sorting plant a variety of magnets, eddy currents (reverse magnets), size-sorting equipment and conveyor belts separate the different materials. The materials are then baled and sold to processors who melt, pulp or crush them to make new products.

Paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard are sorted into different grades and sent on to mills to be pulped and made into a variety of different paper and card products.


Some glass that has not broken before it gets to the MRF can be melted and used to make new bottles. The rest of the glass is crushed and used as aggregate in construction projects, or as filtrates in filter beds.


Cans are separated into aluminium and steel at the MRF. Then they are melted by processors to form ingots to sell to manufacturers who can make anything from bikes and aeroplanes to new cans.

Plastic bottles, pots, tubs, trays and bags

Plastics go through a further sorting phase to separate the different polymer types. They are then shredded and cleaned by a machine that rubs the flakes together. They are usually then melted into tiny pellets that are sold to manufacturers to make new plastic packaging, garden furniture and even fleece jackets.


Drinks cartons (e.g. Tetra Pak cartons) are pulped and the paper parts are used to make plasterboard lining, envelopes, paper bags and other low-grade paper products.

Recycling points

Books, tapes and discs

These are collected from banks provided by Oxfam, Salvation Army and British Heart Foundation. Some of the books are re-sold in the UK in shops or on-line, band some are sent to Africa for education services. Those unsuitable for either of these are pulped and recycled in the UK.

Most CDs and DVDs are resold in the UK, with the remainder sent for plastic recycling in the UK.


These are collected from banks provided by charities such as Oxfam, Salvation Army, British Heart Foundation and the European Recycling Company

Most of the textiles collected will be sorted and reused as clothing in the UK (raising valuable money for charity) but some are sorted for use in Africa and Poland.

Green bin - food and garden waste

The waste from your green bin is taken to the 'in-vessel' composting plant at the Amey Waste Management Park near Waterbeach where it undergoes an intensive fast composting process.

The resulting soil conditioner is sold for local agriculture, and is also available to householders to collect free of charge from the site.

Black bin - non-recyclable rubbish

Black bin rubbish is taken to Amey where it is passed through the Mechanical Biological Treatment plant (MBT). The MBT mechanically removes some items from the waste and then treats the rest in a huge composting hall. This breaks the waste down as much as possible, helping to reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions it might release, before it is landfilled.