Waste and recycling

What happens to our waste? What can you recycle?

Nantycaws recycling centre managed by Cwm Environmental
Nantycaws recycling centre managed by Cwm Environmental. © Copyright Marion Phillips and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Earlier this year we had a film show about plastic waste in the ocean, Exxpedition, plus a talk by Sue Weaver, one of our founders, who went on the sailing expedition. In the ensuing discussion, several members of the audience expressed a wish to know what happens to our waste.

We decided to follow up with Cwm Environmental who process all the waste in Carmarthenshire. On the website it says they are happy to send someone to speak to local groups about recycling. However, despite repeated attempts, no one was forthcoming and we were told they have now changed their policy on public outreach and the website is out of date.

However the representative we spoke to did answer many of our questions:

What happens to the waste in the blue bags?
It is all separated into its component parts: cardboard, paper, metals, different types of plastic.

Where can you recycle everything?
The answer is on this page of the Carmarthenshire Council website.

 Does it really go to landfill?
None of it goes to landfill. In a worst-case scenario it goes to a waste-to-energy plant. The location of the plant is in Belgium. In the future it may go to one under construction in Cardiff, although this may not have the capacity to take it.

What happens to cardboard?
It goes to China. This might seem odd, but otherwise the containers which come over here full of goods would return empty.

What happens to waste electrical equipment?
It goes to a national recycling centre where it is dismantled and the parts recycled. Some may also goes to China.

What happens to the plastic?
Some of it gets turned into new plastic bags, the rest to low grade materials.

What happens to the stuff in the black bags?
Even that is gone through by machine and by hand to see if anything can be reclaimed. About 9% is sent for recycling.

 What happens to green waste?
It is composted and sold.

Where do you get your income?
From gate fees and sale of materials. We receive no grants.

We are still hoping to get someone from the Council to come and talk to us.

The website of Transition Tywi Trawsnewid, Carmarthenshire, Wales