How we manage your waste
Find out what happens to your waste after it has been collected, download our waste strategy and find out how we are performing. More information on flytipping and how to report it.
The Journey of Recycling
Northumberland County Council is committed to recycling as much
waste as possible. From making new clothes, to generating energy we
want to make sure your waste isn’t wasted.
After collecting your recycling, we take your cans, paper,
plastic bottles etc to the sorting plant at West Sleekburn in
Ashington. After their journey through the sorting process,
experiencing the power of the huge magnets and electrical currents,
the materials are off to make new products.
Step 1 - The materials are taken to a Waste
Transfer Station, where they are tipped out, scooped up by a
loading shovel and put into even larger lorries. These lorries then
take the mixed cans, paper, card and plastic bottles to the sorting
plant at West Sleekburn, Ashington.
Step 2: - Staff pick off the things that
shouldn't be there like crisp packets, nappies, food waste, bits of
metal and electrical items like pans and kettles. These things
should not be put into our recycling bins.
Step 3: - Machines and magnets sort the
remaining waste into different categories
Step 4: - The sorted cans, plastic bottles and
cardboard then get pushed through a bailing machine which squashes
these materials into separate bails (a bit like hay bails). They
are then ready to be transported to different factories where they
are made into new products that we can use again.
Step 5: - The cans, plastic bottles, paper and
cardboard are taken to factories to be made into new products.
- Plastic bottles can be made into things like
fleece jumpers and picnic benches.
- Paper can be made into recycled notepads,
kitchen rolls and recycled toilet rolls.
- Cans can be made into new cans, bits for
planes, cars and new things that we use at home like washing
step by step guide on ‘The journey of recycling’
Watch the media clip below to see how materials are
sorted at the West Sleekburn recycling plant in South East
Energy from Waste: Producing electricity from your rubbish
Waste which cannot be recycled or composted can often be used to
generate energy, heat and to collect residual materials for
90,000 tonnes of non-recycled household waste collected from
homes in Northumberland every year is now diverted from landfill
and transported instead to SITA UK’s EfW facility on Teesside
Emissions are continuously monitored and must comply with the
rigorous demands of the European Waste Incineration Directive.
Particles that are filtered out by the cleaning system are
ultimately disposed of at a licensed, special waste disposal
Did you know?
- The EfW process recovers energy in the form of electrical power
and heat. 5.6MW of electricity is produced from Northumberland’s
waste, which is sufficient to light and heat nearly 4,500
- EfW diverts waste from landfill, where the decomposition of
waste would create Methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Recovery of energy from household waste means that less fossil
fuels such as coal, gas and oil need to be burned to generate our
electricity - preserving these limited resources for future
- The EfW process recovers valuable recyclable by-products, which
might otherwise be landfilled. Metals are recovered and returned to
scrap recycling and inert bottom ash is used in construction as a
guide here on how energy can be produced from your
The Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for
The first important step to change the way in which we dealt
with our waste was the publication of the
Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Northumberland in
The document details the changes required to manage our waste
inj a more sustainable way and to ensure that the European and UK
Government targets are met. The seven local authorities and the
Environment Agency worked together to agree the policies and
recommendations which provide a framework for decision making until
The JMWMS concludes that it is necessary to use a range of
options, including waste minimisation, recycling, composting,
energy recovery and the limited use of landfill disposal. It was
clear that there was a need to recover energy from the residual
waste that could not be recycled or composted in order to divert
waste from landfill, and that the JMWMS aims could not be achieved
without the participation of residents.
The 7 local authorities immediately began to put the strategy’s
policies into practice, by promoting waste minimisation and
securing high levels of recycling and composting. The introduction
of waste minimisation measures such as excluding commercial waste
from the HWRCs through a permit scheme, promoting real nappies and
advertising the Mail Preference Service contributed toward the
curtailment of growth in waste arisings. Kerbside collections of
comingled materials were expanded and the collection of garden
waste at the kerbside was introduced. External funding permitted
the redevelopment of the most under performing HWRCs, and internal
revenue was secured to increase the number of HWRCs to
Download the strategy here
Waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI)
In 2006, Northumberland County Council signed up to a 28 year
waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with waste
management company SITA UK Ltd.
With the support of £40.8m in Government funding, an overhaul of
the waste management infrastructure was made to ensure that at
least 45% of waste in the county will be recycled, 47% will be used
to generate electricity, and only 8% disposed of in landfill
In order to meet these ambitious targets £90m investment
was earmarked to:
- improve existing HWRCs and to develop new sites. The last site
to be refurbished reopened in February 2009. The outdated HWRC
adjacent to Ellington Road Landfill site was replaced with a brand
new facility at North Seaton, Ashington.
- develop a new state of the art Materials Recycling Facility on
land at West Sleekburn Industrial Estate.
- construct a new waste transfer station at the West Sleekburn
site, to enable residual waste that cannot be recycled or composted
to be bulked up, and delivered to an Energy from Waste (EfW)
facility located on Teesside. The extension alone will produce
around 10MW of electricity, which is enough power to supply the
energy needs for around 12,000 homes.
The investment in Northumberland’s waste management
infrastructure is already starting to deliver tangible benefits.
The performance figures nine months into 2011/12 demonstrate that
over 42% of household waste has been recycled, composted or reused,
98% of municipal waste has been diverted from landfill sites, and
77% of waste delivered to the HWRCs has been recovered. We are on
track to achieve the stretch targets in the PFI contract, making
Northumberland one of the top performing authorities in the
Further details about SITA UK and the work it does on behalf of
Northumberland County Council can be found online here
The Environment Agency describes fly-tipping as the illegal
dumping of waste. It can cause a range of problems for people,
animals and the environment.
We encourage people to report fly-tipping as this helps us to
keep Northumberland clean. You can call us on 0845 6006400, or
report it online below:
Report a fly-tipping problem here
Report hazardous waste fly-tipping here
Please try to record as many details as possible so that the
fly-tipping incident can be dealt with as efficiently as possible.
For example, did you witness the fly tipping? Did you see any
vehicles involved? What kind of items have been tipped? Remember,
don’t try and move the items yourself as they could be
The Environment Agency advises the following:
“Before you take action, make sure it's safe to do so. Be
extremely careful. Some wastes can be hazardous. Do not open bags
or drums. Piles of soil may be contaminated or they may be hiding
dangerous material. Remember that fly-tippers are doing something
illegal - they are unlikely to welcome people observing them or
taking notes or photographs”
If fly-tipping is reported on land not within our control we
will try to contact the land owner responsible
Did you know?
- It is estimated to cost £100-£150 million every year to
investigate and clear up. The cost falls on taxpayers and private
- Fly-tipping poses a threat to humans and wildlife, damages our
environment, and spoils our enjoyment of our towns and
- Areas subject to repeated fly-tipping may suffer declining
property prices and local businesses may suffer as people stay
away” (Environment Agency).
Please click here for further information on fly-tipping from the
1. Use an Authorised Waste Carrier
It is possible to check whether or not the contractor you have
hired is listed as an Authorised Waste Carrier.
Please click here for further information on Authorised Waste
Carriers from the Environment Agency. Once on this page, please
click on Authorised Waste Carriers. Here you can check which
contractors in your area are registered to carry waste. You can
also ask your contractor for a waste carrier number.
2. Use our Household Waste Recovery Centres
Northumberland householders can use one of 12 Household Waste
Recovery Centres across the county to recycle and dispose of a wide
range of materials.
Please note these centres are for waste from Northumberland
householders only and some vehicles require a permit.
More information is available on the HWRC pages here.
3. Use the hazardous household waste collection
click here for further information on the hazardous household waste
collection service for Northumberland residents