Once your recycling is collected it is taken to a depot. At the depot, your recycling is picked up and taken to a sorting facility.

The recycling is placed on a conveyor belt and goes through a series of machines which separate the different materials. Here’s how:

Paper and cardboard:

In a large spinning drum, similar to a washing machine, paper & card lay flat & pass over specially sized holes whereas glass, plastic and cans fall through the gaps.

Metal packaging:

Metal sorters separate steel cans out using a magnet. An electric current is then used to sort aluminium cans and foil.


Shaking and tilted tables with different sized holes separate recyclable materials by weight and size. Glass falls through the first gaps as it’s the heaviest.


Infra-red beams of light identify the cartons by their thickness & separate them from other materials.


Optical sorters use beams of light to show different plastic types and then blasts of air blow the types into separate baskets.

Recycling is an extremely interesting topic that delves into a huge array of processes, keep an eye on our blogs to keep up to date!