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Where does my waste go?

Where does my recycling go?

All recycling collected in Bedford Borough is taken to the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at Elstow and from there the majority goes to Milton Keynes for further sorting. At Elstow, recycling is all sorted by hand on a conveyor belt so it is important that correct materials are put in the orange lidded bins and bags. Once the materials have been separated, they are sent to different reprocessors who recycle them into new things.

Download a guide to find out what happens at the MRF (782kb pdf)

Man sorting recycling at MRFdigger at mrfMRF bale



Where does my garden waste go?

1. Your green waste is collected from the kerbside or the Household Waste and Recycling Centre (HWRC) and taken to Growing Beds, a privately-funded company in Ravensden.


Garden waste shredder

2. On arrival, the green waste is unloaded and stockpiled. After being sorted and mixed it is then shredded to help speed up the composting process.

Garden waste windrow turner

3. The shredded material is piled in long rows called windrows for 12 weeks. This material is turned weekly to incorporate oxygen. The temperature of the windrows is also monitored regularly to make sure that the optimum conditions for composting are maintained. Any signs of litter or contaminants are removed.


Garden waste screener

4. Next, the compost is screened and large pieces repeat the process alongside fresh green waste. The compost is transferred to an outside storage area where it is left for up to 6 months. The longer material is left to mature, the better the end product.


Uses for garden waste

5. At the end of the process the compost is bagged into different grades. It can then be ploughed back into the land for growing crops or used in land remediation. It is also used in parks throughout Bedford Borough.



Watch our video on YouTube, created by the Recycling Team and Growing Beds, to find more about how the Garden Waste Collection Scheme works:

YouTube - Bedford Borough Council's Garden Waste Collection Scheme



Where does my black bin waste go?

Once collected, the black bin waste is taken to Elstow transfer station where it is loaded into articulated trailers and transported to a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) Facility located in East London. 


Upon arrival at the MBT facility, the waste is shredded and laid in rows where air is blown through it.  This dries the waste out and reduces its overall volume.  After 15 days, the dried waste is put through a machine which extracts some recyclable materials which are then transported to reprocessing facilities.  The rest of the dried waste is called a Solid Recovered Fuel (SRF), which is used as a fossil fuel alternative in energy generation. 

Click Here to see a diagram of the entire process.


The benefits:

  • Less waste is sent to landfill
  • Some recyclable materials are removed from the residual waste
  • Bio-filters used, minimise emissions to the environment
  • The volume of waste is reduced through the bio-drying process


MBT Flow Diagram


This technology is expected to assist the Council’s recycling rate by recovering from the residual waste recyclable materials which would have normally been landfilled. It is anticipated that this will contribute to increasing the Council’s recycling rate by 3-4% per annum.

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