The recycling process

Last Updated: 20 November 2023

We collect various recyclable items including plastic, glass and paper which are all processed in a different way and repurposed to use again.


There are over 50 types of plastic in everyday use, ranging from drink bottles and food trays to cling film and bin liners, with the average household using about 440 plastic bottles each year. 

We collect bottles, pots, tubs and trays in our recycling boxes and banks, but not polystyrene or hard plastic such as toys or flower pots. 

There are many uses for recycled plastic, for example as clothing, garden furniture, water butts, and recycling boxes, such as those we use for kerbside collections.



We ask that glass bottles and jars are rinsed as this helps keep your recycling box clean and reduces the level of contamination that needs dealing with during the recycling process.  You can rinse your bottles and jars at the end of the washing-up.

After collection the glass is taken to depots in Kendal and Barrow, before being taken to a re-processing plant.


Paper needs to be kept as clean and dry as possible to maintain the level of quality needed for the recycling process.

After collecting your paper from the kerbside it is taken to depots in Kendal and Barrow for baling and is then sent to a mill for processing.


Steel and aluminium cans are not only easy to recycle, but doing so uses less resources than making new cans from scratch.

There is no need to separate your steel or aluminium cans as they are sorted later. However we do ask that cans are rinsed out as this helps keep the banks and boxes clean. You can rinse cans out using your old washing-up water.

The cans we collect are taken to depots in Kendal and Barrow, before being taken to the re-processing plant.

We also collect aluminium foil which is recycled in a similar way.


Cardboard is collected in mixed paper and cardboard banks at Recycling Centres around the district.

The cardboard is sorted from the paper and baled. The baled cardboard can then be taken to a mill for processing.

There the card is put into a hydropulper, where it is mixed with water to break down the fibres. It is then cleaned and any contaminants, such as staples, are removed. The resulting pulp is then dried and ready to be used in the manufacture of new cardboard products.

There are many uses for our recycled cardboard, including notepad backs, plasterboard, animal bedding and in the manufacture of training shoes.

Green waste

The green waste we collect is taken to sites in Lancaster and Barrow where it is composted in piles called windrows.

These piles are turned periodically to introduce air into the mixture. During the composting process the temperature of the waste can reach up to 80 degrees centigrade.

This composting process is suitable for the types of green waste we collect, but cannot be used to compost food waste. 

Grey bin waste

The waste from your grey bin is taken to a plant at Barrow where it is treated to produce a fuel product.

The waste is shredded to pieces that are between twenty and thirty centimetres and placed in an aerobic fermentation area where it is placed in contiguous windrows. Air is drawn through to help aid the biological breakdown of the waste.

After twelve to fifteen days in the area, the waste is transported to a recycling and recovery area where recyclables such as glass, metals and stones are extracted. The remaining fuel can then be used in energy-from-waste incinerators.

Additional recycling services

Find out more about how the recycling we collect from your home is processed. Recyclenow

Recycle bulky items like a sofa or fridge.

Find out how to recycle items that we don't collect from your home, including clothing and textiles. Recycling banks and household recycling centres in South Lakeland