How your recycling is sorted

Collection, sorting and recycling

What materials can the Materials Recovery Facilities sort?

  • CANS AND TINS: Steel cans, aluminium cans, loose steel lids from bottles and jars. These should be rinsed out but not crushed.
  • CARDBOARD: Cardboard boxes, cardboard food packaging, carboard egg cartons, toilet/kitchen rolls and greetings cards.
  • GLASS: all types and colours except drinking glasses, Pyrex and window glass. Lids from jars and bottles can be kept on. Glass should not be smashed or broken.
  • PAPER: Newspapers, magazines, junk mail, office paper, envelopes, paper bags, wrapping paper (Sellotape and other sticky tape should be removed), catalogues, telephone directories and Yellow Pages.
  • PLASTIC BOTTLES: Plastic drinks bottles such as juice, water, milk and cordials. Shampoo bottles and household cleaner bottles such as fabric softener, washing liquid etc. Bottles should be emptied and rinsed but not flattened.


Mixed dry recyclable materials are brought into the Facility and deposited on the MRF Reception Hall Floor

  • The District Councils collect dry recyclable materials at kerbside. These are brought to the Facility in a separate collection to residual waste.
  • The dry recyclables are deposited straight from the vehicle onto the MRF Reception Hall Floor.
  • Any large or oversized contaminants are removed at this stage

The materials are fed onto the in-feed conveyor

  • The dry recyclable materials are then fed onto the in- feed conveyor. This will move the materials upwards to the pre-sort cabin.

Materials are then sent through the pre-sort cabin

  • The dry recyclable materials arrive in the enclosed pre-sort cabin.
  • At this stage trained staff help the sort process by removing cardboard. They also remove smaller items that cannot be sorted or recycled at the facility.

The materials are then fed through the ‘V screen’

  • Materials are then fed through the ‘V screen’. This sorting mechanism separates out the paper element of the stream over the top of the screen. It does this by using a system of rotating discs and compressed air.
  • Paper is then diverted away for further sorting.

The remaining materials are then sent through the ‘3D cabin’

  • The ‘3D cabin’ is where the remaining recyclable streams (glass, plastic and cans) are checked
  • Trained staff check that no other major contaminants are left in the waste stream.

From the sorting in the ‘3D cabin’, glass is removed in separate stream.

  • From the 3D cabin the remaining materials pass through the glass breaker.
  • Glass is broken into small pieces which allows it to drop through spaces into a separate conveyor where it goes for final cleaning and bulking up.
  • The cans and plastics continue onto the next phase of the process.

From the sorting in the ‘3D cabin’ and after glass is removed, cans are removed in a separate stream

  • Steel cans are removed from remaining recyclables using an overhead magnet
  • Aluminium cans are removed using an eddy current – this is like a reverse magnet
  • Cans are then partly compacted and baled

After cans are removed, plastic bottles are removed in a separate stream

  • The remaining plastic bottles are pierced and flattened and conveyed for baling
  • A final check is made on any remaining materials and contaminants are removed in the post sort cabin.

The individual recyclable material streams are offloaded from and baled or compacted

  • The individual streams of recyclables are then offloaded.
  • Cans are compacted into bales
  • Glass is bulked up in skips for removal and reprocessing
  • Plastics are compacted into bales
  • Paper is collected loose for transportation to the paper mill