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Westminster City Council

Where is the waste and recycling that we collect processed?

We all know that our waste and recycling is collected at certain times each day, but do you actually know where your waste is sent to afterwards? Collecting waste and recycling is only the first easier part of the process before it finally gets recycled.

We are proud that almost all of the waste we collect is disposed of in a facility local to Westminster, unlike that of other waste collectors who often export waste or travel across the country to dispose of it.

By keeping services local to our base in Westminster, we’re helping to minimise the pollution to our environment through harmful emissions — something that’s very important to us. It also ensures adherence with the London Mayor’s London Environment Strategy which aims to keep waste resources within the M25 ensuring other communities are not burdened with it.

So, where exactly does your waste begin its journey to becoming fully recycled?

If you’d rather view our recycling locations on an interactive map, then you can do so by clicking the button below.

View our interactive recycling locations map

Mixed recycling and bulky waste

Westminster > Southwark Veolia: 7km (approx.)

The mixed recycling that we collect needs to be thoroughly sorted before it can be recycled into new products. Veolia’s Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility is one of the most advanced recycling facilities in Europe.

120,000 tonnes of mixed recycling is collected from homes and businesses in multiple London boroughs including the City of Westminster and is processed at the Southwark MRF before being sent off to manufacturers to turn the recycled raw materials into new products.

How does this happen? The MRF facility works through eight processes of recycling: tipping, loading, disc screen sortment, hand sorting, overband magnet, Eddy current, lasers and air jets, and finally baling.

Most materials sorted by the MRF stay close to home as well. For example, plastics are recycled in Dagenham, glass is turned into insulation wool in Merseyside, and paper and cardboard is recycled in Kent.

To see how the MRF facility works, watch the video.

Bulky waste

Bulky waste from special collections is also received at the Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility. This waste stream is handled separately from other waste streams like mixed recycling. It is sorted to recover metals, wood, cardboard, mattresses and what cannot be recycled is turned into Refuse Derived Fuel which goes to the energy recovery facility (ERF) which uses it to generate power and heat.

Book a bulky waste collection


westminster recycling

General Waste

Westminster > SELCHP: 8km (approx.)

No waste collected by us is sent to landfill; the general waste that we collect is sent to SELCHP in South East London. This energy recovery facility uses state of the art technology to turn general waste into renewable energy in the form of electricity and district heating.

The facility is a power station but instead of using gas or coal it is fired with waste. It helps generate low carbon energy from the biogenic part of the waste (organic materials such as unrecyclable paper, wood etc). The waste is combusted which releases large amounts of heat which turn water into steam. This steam is used to power a turbine and the steam left over after this is used for district heating – see how this works.

Every bag of general waste generates enough hot water for seven showers or nearly 24 hours of watching TV.

You can see exactly how the SELCHP facility works in the video.

An animated infographic on what happens to your waste once it reaches the treatment facility

You can get a copy of our interactive PDF, showing you how and where the waste that we collect is disposed of, by clicking the button below.

The infographic helps to demonstrate that all of the waste that we collect goes on to have a further use once it reaches the drop-off facility.

We’d encourage you to print out a copy of this Infographic and display it in your workplace. It should assure your colleagues that the rubbish and recycling they dispose of, still has a further use.

Get our 'What waste goes where?' Infographic

recyucling in westminster

Large appliances

Westminster > EMR Willesden: 10.4km (approx.)

The large appliances that we collect go to a local scrap metal recycling facility called EMR (European Metals Recycling). With 75 fully licensed depots dotted around the country, EMR trades metal on a daily basis. This includes:

  • Ferrous metals (iron, steel, cast iron etc.)
  • Large domestic appliances (fridge freezers, washing machines, dishwashers etc.)
  • Roadworthy or non-roadworthy cars
  • Alloy wheels
  • Batteries

For a comprehensive list of appliances EMR Local trade, click here.

The facility we use, EMR Willesden, helps this company process over 10 million tonnes of metals a year. It segregates old large appliances and scrap into over 100 grades of high-quality recyclable metals, which are then taken to steel furnaces and smelters for recycling.

Discover what EMR do in more detail and watch the video.

Small appliances

Westminster > SWEEEP: 73km (approx.)

Our small appliances are taken to Sittingbourne’s SWEEEP Kuusakoski, one of the UK’s leading waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection and recycling specialists. With a recovery rate of 97.5%, SWEEEP’s plant is powered completely by renewable green energy and its recycling processes are recycles thousands of tonnes of electrical appliances each year, saving them from landfill.

SWEEEP recovers and recycles your waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) e into valuable raw materials which are sold to markets in the UK or abroad.

All of SWEEEP’s recyclates go back into manufacturing:

  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Steel
  • Iron
  • Precious metals
  • Plastic
  • Glass
  • Wire

Watch what former Prime Minister David Cameron had to say about SWEEEP’s contribution to recycling.

Food waste

Westminster > Biogen anaerobic digestion facility: 112km (approx.)

The food waste that we collect is sent to Biogen’s anaerobic digestion (AD) facility in Northamptonshire. This facility alone processes 65,000 tonnes of food waste per year, generating 2.9MW of green electricity; that’s enough to power approx 6,500 homes.

Biogen, the UK’s leading AD operator, recycles your food waste through three steps after its collection:

  1. The food waste is de-packaged removing any (compostable) plastics and other contamination and shredded into a slurry which goes in one of the large digesters where it, in the absence of oxygen, ferments and produces biogas.
  2. The biogas is captured and fed into super-efficient gas engines to generate renewable electricity for the grid.
  3. What remains after the digestion process is a valuable bio-fertiliser that is used to fertilise nearby arable land to grow new crops.

Effectively, Biogen helps transform food waste into renewable energy and fertilisers with minimal fuss.

Learn more about how the Biogen facility works in the video.

Paper and cardboard

Westminster > DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper mill: 75.3km (approx.)

All of the segregated paper and cardboard that we collect is taken to DS Smith’s Kemsley Paper mill where it is turned into new packaging material. As one of Europe’s largest cardboard and paper recyclers, DS Smith specialises in closed-loop recycling solutions meaning that cardboard can be back on the shop shelf within 14 days.

With the aim of turning 100% of the resources Westminster City Council delivers into something useful, Kemsley Paper mill turns your paper and cardboard into the following:

  • Corrugated case materials – high-quality sustainable papers for modern packaging
  • Speciality papers – adapted to a number of markets including construction, tissues, food manufacturing, stationery, and education.
  • Light-medium – the first recycled lightweight paper manufactured in the UK

Learn more about DS Smith are able to turn recycled cardboard into packaging on shop shelves in 14 days in the video.


Westminster > United Resource Management: 45.5km (approx.)

The segregated glass waste that we collect is sent to URM (United Resource Management) in Tilbury. URM is the UK’s largest purchaser and recycler of waste glass. Founded over 90 years ago, they are committed to providing practical solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s recycling challenges.

At the URM facility, the glass is washed using high-end equipment to remove any residues and contaminating material such as labels, tops, caps, plastics and other impurities. It is also colour sorted and graded. This glass can then be recycled by glass packaging manufacturers with much of it using low carbon environmentally friendly transport by train from Tilbury.

The energy saved from recycling one bottle will power a 100 watt light bulb for almost an hour or a computer for 20 minutes.

urm group

Recycling from one local business to another

We are proud to be fully transparent with our customers, which includes openly showing you where your waste actually goes once it’s collected. We dedicate time and effort into ensuring we are choosing the best facility to send materials to, both in terms of the location of the facility and the standard of recycling that it offers.

By recycling your waste locally, we’re not just supporting our community but taking a step towards improving our nation’s carbon footprint.

At Westminster City Council Commercial Waste Services, we ensure that all of your waste is handled responsibly. Download the infographic below to learn more.

where does waste go