BRAG visits Southall Lane Recycling Plant

BRAG members Patti and Malcolm visited Southall Lane Recycling Plant last month and came away with a greater understanding of what can and cannot be recycled at the facility. Among other things, they viewed several “mountains” of collected materials in fire-resistant bays, a variety of machinery, and a clothes and shoes collector, shaped like a shed. 

A use is found for everything that come through the plant’s doors, including objects not economically viable to recycle, such as thin plastic film and thick hard plastics. These items should be put in general refuse and will be used for electricity generation.

All refuse (contents of black wheelie bins) is incinerated off-site and used to produce energy.

All recycling is worth money.  Its value depends on the cleanliness and quality of the basic material, so please rinse out food cans and be sure not to dispose of cans other than in recycling receptacles.

The operatives collecting your recycling are allowed 43 seconds per house.


The photo shows incoming plastic and metal. In the foreground are some unacceptable items; at the back is a blue hopper from which unsorted plastic and metal are conveyed to the right into the steel (magnetic) and then aluminium (eddy current) separation stages further along.

Recycling tips

Here are some recycling tips collected by Malcolm during the visit.

1. Segregating cardboard and paper in the box aids kerbside sorting.  There should be no glitter film or laminate in the paper box.
2. Technical problems, including melt temperature, mean that some glass cannot be recycled. This includes heat-resistant or perfume/scent bottles, so leave them out of your recycling box. All recycled bottles are processed in the UK.
3. No loose batteries should be included in your recycling, as they can cause fires or explosions at the facility.
4. No lids should be left on plastic bottles, as this inhibits compaction. Bottles should be crushed before being placed in your red box.
5. With your plastic recycling, do not include large metal items like coat hangers, metal trapped inside plastic containers (the plastic ends up in the steel or aluminium bays) and containers that contain or have contained corrosive or toxic contents, paint, etc.
6. It is very important that as much aluminium as possible is recycled. Not only is it the most valuable item in monetary terms, but it reduces primary production by bauxite strip mining and refining, which causes huge environmental damage, including loss of rainforest, pollution and very high energy consumption.


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