Weirdest items we find in our recycling facilities

17th September 2019 Posted by

Posted by SUEZ recycling and recovery UK.

SUEZ in the UK manages recyclable material collected from over five million households. This means that we often find some unusual items on the conveyor belts at our materials recycling facilities.

Buy milk, feed the cat, water plants, take out recycling bin…the list of household chores goes on, and sometimes we have a tendency of switching to ‘autopilot’ while getting on with our day. We chuck items into the recycling bin without giving it a second thought, and drag the wheelie bin outside ready for collection. However, for the recyclables this is just the start of the next stage of their journey. Once the local crew collects your bin, the recyclables are taken to a materials recycling facility where they are sorted into each material type, baled and shipped off to be reprocessed and given a second life as a new product.

Occasionally, we come across some weird and wonderful items that have somehow find their way into household recycling containers…

1.    Used nappies

Yup, you read it correctly! Unfortunately, nappies are often found in a pile of recycling which can result in large amounts of recyclable material being contaminated. One dirty nappy means that the entire lorry load cannot be recycled.

Please put these in your general waste bin or choose a reusable alternative.

Eco friendly nappies and pampers

2.    Wigs

Keep your wig on! But, if you no longer have a use for it, please make sure you put it in your general waste bin. The hairs get tangled up in our machinery and can cause a lot of damage.

Composite of Mannequin Female Heads with Wigs

3.    Car parts

A fast ride to a facility shut down! Car parts have the ability to shut down our facilities for hours as they can damage the equipment. Please speak to a scrap merchant or local garage if you need to recycle your car parts.

Abstract car and many vehicles parts

4.    VHS tapes

A bit of a throwback perhaps in this modern world? However, if these end up in the recycling bin the VHS tapes unwind in our conveyor belts and leave huge trails of long, black tape all around the facility causing endless amounts of frustration.

VHS tapes can be donated to local charities, or recycled by companies like TerraCycle UK who have a solution to recycle this and many other hard-to-recycle items

VHS video cassette.

5.    Toys

It’s all fun and games until… Toys are often made with hard plastic which needs to be processed in a different way to a plastic bottle or yoghurt pot. Once you have had your fun, take them to your local household waste recycling centre, or donate them to charity or schools if they are still full of life.

Colourful plastic toys in children's room

6.    Smoke alarms

How alarming! This one can cause issues at the MRF as they continue to bleep! Smoke alarms should not go in your recycling bin as they are made with a harder plastic which must be treated differently.

A smoke detector installed on a ceiling

7.    Prosthetic limbs

Our teams often get a little shocked when prosthetic limbs or manikins appear amongst the recycling at the MRF. The best place for these is for you to return them to your local medical centre.

Five prosthetic legs

8.    Fairy lights

Many bright sparks think these can be recycled in their household waste bin, unfortunately they cannot. The wires end up tangled around our machinery and cause damage and delay.

Tangled Christmas Lights

So there you go, which did you find the most surprising? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook and remember to always check with your local authority what items are suitable for your recycling bin!

2 comments on "Weirdest items we find in our recycling facilities"

  • I really loved the wigs!!! Do the employees try them on. I know I would. Lol.
    Great article. More like this.

    • Hi Margery, thank you for your comment. Pleased you enjoyed the post, I do not know if they try them on, will see if we can find out! Best wishes, SUEZ marketing team.

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