Where recycling goes


Please note - Due to extensive upgrades currently taking place at the Materials recycling facility (MRF) at Great Blakenham, your kerbside recycling material from your blue bin is being taken to alternative facilities in Kent and Norfolk to be recycled.

In Suffolk, mixed recycling is collected by your council and is taken to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at Great Blakenham in Suffolk, for separation and baling.

A limited number of tours of the facility are organised by the Suffolk Waste Partnership. You can find out more about the facility tours here.


What happens at the MRF?

Your recycling bin collection from your home is only the beginning of it's long recycling journey. After your blue bin is collected, freighters deliver your recyclable materials directly to the MRF. It is weighed then it is shovelled onto a series of conveyor belts to begin the separation process. The first stage of the process involves the material passing through a rotating drum to remove cans and plastic bottles. 

The next stage of the process is done by hand. Line pickers are responsible for removing larger unwanted items of unrecyclable waste (such as plastic bags, whole wheelie bins and dead animals!) by hand from the first conveyor belt. Further items of contaminating material (such as glass) are removed by hand from further conveyor belts by a team of up to 20 line pickers.

Once unwanted items have been removed during the ‘manual’ stage the mixed materials are mechanically separated into different types.

A high-speed conveyor belt separates lighter items such as paper from plastic containers and cans. Cans are pulled out and separated from the plastic items by magnets.

Each of the separated material types are collected in different loading bays for compacting and baled for transportation to reprocessing companies, where they can be made into new products!


This video shows an overview of Suffolk's Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and the processes that take place here.

Where does plastic get recycled?

Have you ever wondered where plastics from your blue bin get recycled? The infographic below shows the locations to which plastics were sent after being sorted at Mason’s MRF in Great Blakenham. End destinations can vary; the infographic shows a 3-month period, covering the first quarter of 2018/19 financial year (April 1st – June 30th). A simple bottle icon is used to represent all plastics from your recycling bin, therefore includes plastic pots, tubs and food trays as well as bottles.

Exported materials become an “end-of-waste product” which specifies no further onward trading as waste.  An end-of-waste product refers to waste which has been reprocessed, e.g. plastics are broken down into a pellets or flakes which can be used to make new plastic. 

Viridor, who are the company contracted to sort and sell Suffolk's household recycling operate an Audit Process with UK Authorities and the Environment Agency before recovered materials are shipped. Further audit is completed before recovered materials are sold to re-processors to ensure the supply-chain is fully verified in advance of implementation. Viridor are committed to the highest standards of business and ethical conduct and demonstrate considerable expertise in this area.