Beyond the kerb – recycling to resources

Latest news!: In the first eight months of 2020/21, 98% of the 103,000 tonnes of recycling collected kerbside or at recycling sites stayed in the UK. Plastic performance is even better, with less than 1% of the 3,135 tonnes collected going overseas.

Beyond the Kerb – what happens to your recycling after it has been collected

The latest edition of a pioneering annual report shows how every tonne of recycling in Somerset has contributed to cutting our carbon footprint.

In 2008, Somerset Waste Partnership was the first authority in the UK to produce an annual full report, Beyond the Kerb – Recycling to Resources, showing what happens to your recycling after you’ve left it by the kerbside or taken it to the recycling site. Many others have followed that lead.

SWP has turned this information into an infographic – see above helping to get the message out to more people that sorting your recycling means it is high quality so we can keep it in the UK and maximise our carbon savings.

Somerset is independently ranked among the top 10 areas in England for carbon saving, equivalent to taking more than 25,000 cars off the road for a year.

In 2019-2020 Somerset reused and recycled 135,420 tonnes of waste. Thanks to residents and recycling crews separating recycling, over half stays in Somerset and over 90% stays in the UK.

That includes everything from cans to glass bottles and garden waste, with the amounts, locations and companies, and the carbon saved by recycling, listed and published here each year.

This level of openness and transparency is important to SWP because to tackle climate change, it is important not just how much we recycle, but how we recycle it.

Due to the lack of UK reprocessing capacity or demand, SWP’s collection and recycling site contractors send a proportion of some materials overseas, such as clothes or cardboard, with every tonne carefully tracked to the location and company.

A Somerset Waste Partnership spokesman said: “We’re proud of what we achieved but we want to do even better in the future.

“As new recycling capacity comes on line in the UK – including the country’s largest plastics plant in Avonmouth, powered by burning Somerset’s rubbish – even more can be achieved.

“If there is enough UK capacity and demand, then from spring 2020 we won’t export anything we collect at the kerbside.”

View or download the most recent edition:

SWP Beyond the Kerb Recycling to Resources 2019-20

Download the 2019-2020 infographic: SWP Beyond the Kerb – Recycling to Resources 2019-2020


View or download earlier editions:



SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2016-2017

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2015-2016

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2014-2015

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2013-2014

SWP-Recycling-End-Use Register-2012-2013

Paper Sent to paper mills in the UK and overseas to be recycled into newsprint and other paper and board products.
Cardboard Sent to board mills in the UK and overseas to be recycled into new cardboard.
Mixed container glass Sent to reprocessing facilities in the UK to be turned into mineral wool and new glass bottles and jars.
Cans and foil Sent to reprocessing facilities in the UK to be sorted into steel and aluminium.  Steel cans are made into new steel products and aluminium cans are recycled into more cans and other aluminium products.
Food waste Sent to an anaerobic digestion facility near Bridgwater to produce a biofertiliser used on agricultural land and biogas used to generate electricity.
Garden waste Composted in Somerset by Viridor and local farmers.  Used on site or sold as Revive Compost at recycling centres.
Textiles Sent for reuse in the developing world or shredded into cotton felt/wadding/mops and industrial wiping cloths.
Shoes Sent to developing nations to be refurbished and reused.
Plastic bottles Sent to reprocessors in the UK and overseas to be recycled into various plastic items such as films, pipes, compost bins and fleece jackets.
Beverage cartons Sent to reprocessor in the UK to be separated into paper for cardboard products, plastic to generate energy, and aluminium to be used for aluminium products.
Fridges and Freezers Broken down into separate components for reuse in manufacturing, and CFCs extracted for safe disposal.
Electrical Broken down into separate components, baled and recycled.
Bric a Brac Sent to various local outlets via collection agents at each recycling site.
Household batteries Separated into different fractions (i.e. metal and plastic) for reuse in manufacturing.
Automotive batteries Separated into different fractions (i.e. metal and plastic) for reuse in manufacturing.
Cooking oil Turned into biofuel to generate electricity and heat.
Engine oil Oils are recovered and blended for use as an alternative fuel.
Paint (water-based) Recycled into new paint products.
Scrap metal Sent to various reprocessors who break it down into separate components, bale and recycle it.
Wood (Clean and Low grade timber) Some of the wood is chipped and made into a range of proucts including animal bedding, equestrian surfaces.  Some is incinerated to produce energy and heat.
Plasterboard Separated into gypsum which is reprocessed into new plasterboard, and paper which is recycled into a variety of new paper materials.