What happens to your recycling

Materials for recycling go to different reprocessors. Recycle for Scotland show how this process works.

Mixed recycling

Mixed recycling includes plastics, cans and paper, which go to Biffa  where the recycling gets sorted into material streams and then sent on to various different contractors, including Jayplas in Leicester and ClearPoint Recycling. There they make a range of raw materials or new products such as tins and cans, and cardboard for packaging.

Food waste

Food waste goes to the Biogen plant at Millerhill, and is made into renewable electricity and fertiliser.

Garden waste

Garden waste is taken to Forth Resource Management where they shred garden waste in large piles, called open windrows, where it composts over time. The end product, a soil improver, can be bought by members of the public.


Glass is taken to Viridor, where it is sorted and processed into high quality raw materials for the glass container and fibreglass markets.


Paper from paperbanks goes to Changeworks  and is sent to a paper mill where it is processed into newsprint.


Textiles are collected and sorted by Nathans  to be re-used and recycled in developing nations in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Small electricals

Electrical items are shredded and metals and plastics are removed for recycling.


Household batteries are sorted and processed at G&P Batteries to recover the materials in each battery type.

Landfill waste

In Edinburgh more than 50% of your rubbish was taken to a landfill site in Dunbar.  However, we are beginning to send waste to our new Energy Recovery facility at Millerhill.  By summer 2019, we expect most of our non recyclable waste to be processed here, into electricity, instead of being landfilled.

Landfill sites are large holes in the ground. They are lined with a layer of clay or synthetic material to prevent pollutants from escaping. This site is well managed to protect the environment but it is important to use our recycling services where possible to make the best use of precious materials.

Scotland's Zero Waste Plan sets out the Scottish Government's vision for a zero waste society.