How we manage your waste

Find out what happens to your waste after we have collected it.

Northumberland County Council is committed to recycling as much as possible. Our aim is to ensure that your waste isn’t wasted.

How do we process your recycling?

  • After we collect your recyclable waste (mixed materials), we take it to a transfer station where it’s loaded onto larger lorries.
  • Mixed materials are taken to our sorting plant at West Sleekburn, Ashington.
  • When your recycling reaches the sorting plant, staff will then remove any items that could contaminate the recycling (e.g. crisp packets, nappies, food waste, and electrical items).
  • The remaining waste is separated using magnets and electrical currents.
  • The sorted recyclables are then squashed into separate bails before being transported to different factories to be made into new products we can use again, e.g:
    • Fleece jumpers and picnic benches from plastic bottles
    • Kitchen rolls from paper
    • Washing machines and new cans from recycled cans and aerosols
Please watch the video below to see how we recycle your waste:
Our strategy outlines our waste management targets.

Important points from the strategy:

  • It outlines how to manage our waste in a more sustainable way, and ensures that we will meet European and UK government targets.
  • A range of options need to be used, including waste minimisation, recycling, composting, energy recovery, and a more limited use of landfill disposal.
  • The aims set out can’t be reached without the participation of residents and visitors.
  • Several factors have contributed to the minimisation of waste, such as excluding commercial waste from household waste recovery centres (HWRCs) via a permit scheme.
  • Kerbside collections of commingled (mixed) materials were expanded, and the collection of garden waste at the kerbside was introduced.
If we can’t recycle or compost your waste, we can use it to generate energy and heat. Each year we divert over 90,000 tonnes of non-recycled household waste from landfills to EfW sites.

Recovering energy from waste means that we use less fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil. This helps to preserve fossil fuels, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

How does your rubbish produce electricity?

  • Non-recycled household waste is diverted from landfill to the UK’s EfW site in Teesside.
  • Once inside the plant, the waste is distributed evenly as it passes through a series of grate bars.
  • Waste is then passed through the furnace where it is dried, before being burned at temperatures around 1,000 degrees celsius.
  • Burning waste creates both renewable energy, and Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA).
  • Hot flue gas (produced from burning waste) is passed through a boiler and mixes with water to create steam. This steam is used to drive turbines, which generate electricity.
  • IBA drops into a water tank to cool it, and then travels along a conveyor belt to a storage pit. Magnets then extract ferrous (iron-rich) metals from the ash which can then be recycled.
  • Water sprays and extraction fans are used to ensure dust and odour is controlled during this process.
  • This cleaning system also filters out particles which will be disposed of at a licensed, special waste disposal facility.
Northumberland County Council signed a contract with SUEZ Recycling for a 28-year PFI. This isn’t due to come to an end until 2034.

You can click here to find out more about SUEZ Recycling.
With the support of this government funding, we have been able to ensure that:
  • at least 45% of waste in the country will be recycled
  • 47% will be used to generate electricity
  • only 8% will be disposed of in landfill sites
In order to meet these targets, a £90 million investment was reserved to:
  • improve existing HWRCs, and to develop new sites such as the new facility at North Seaton, Ashington
  • develop a new recycling facility at West Sleekburn Industrial Estate
  • construct a new waste transfer station at West Sleekburn, enabling non-recyclable waste to be transferred to an EfW facility.