CRG member Nigel Barry, reports on a trip to see what happens to all of Cardiff’s waste:
On the 3rd of July, a small group of the Cardiff Rivers Group visited Lamby Way for a trip around the
recycling plant (Matt, Nigel, Lynne & Jenny).
Right from the start, we felt welcomed by the reception staff and introduced to our guide Tim,
charged with escorting us around the plant. Tim was a superb guide.
On the way around to the plant, we took the opportunity to batter Tim with questions which he
fended off easily.
We started the tour outside the plant where it was quiet. Tim explained where the different types of
waste were stored after collection, warehouse 15. We were not allowed in the warehouse as it was
too dangerous with lots of heavy plant shuffling tonnes of separated waste onto waiting transport.
• Green bin waste sent to Gloucester to be composted.
• Food waste sent to be processed elsewhere (I don’t recall where)
• Black bin waste was not stored and sent straight to land fill
The tour focused on the green bags recycling waste.
The recycling plant was a made up of hoppers, conveyor belts and waste product areas whose sole
purpose is to separate the waste into saleable waste product.
To try and briefly describe the process:-
1. A JCB picked up the green bags and loaded shovelled them into a hopper.
2. The bags ripped by a machine spilling the contents onto the conveyor belt.
3. Small metal objects and broken glass fell through the conveyor belt and disappeared on a
conveyor belt to another process or storage.
4. The ripped green bags and other cheap plastic bags were removed manually by 4 guys who
used a giant vacuum cleaner to collect this waste product.
5. The rest of the waste was tipped into a spinning machine where the light paper waste
floated up onto a conveyor belt where another 4 guys, sorted out the paper into 2 grades;
high grade paper (worth £140 per ton) and low grade paper (worth £85 per ton). This paper
made its way into a machine that compressed them into bales where a fork lift moved them
ready for transport to a paper recycling plant elsewhere. The paper bales were like a giant
sausage machine, with the bales inching out slowly.
6. The metal tins dropped down onto a table where they were inspected by the “tin man”who
flicked tin to the right or aluminium to the left with what looked like a stick. Any alien waste
was removed into a separate container to be fed back into the recycling process.
7. The glass bottles etc. travelled onto a “smasher” which reduced them to small broken glass
which then dropped into a container for shipment to a glass recycler.
8. Finally, the many varieties of plastic waste, disappeared down a conveyor for crushing and
onward transport to a plastic recycler able to sort it into the different grades.
In the plant, it was noisy, there were some nasty niffs about but, it was brilliant seeing the end to
end process of thousands of tons of waste get separated into saleable waste product every hour.
At present, they don’t make enough money to sustain the plant, but without a doubt, it makes
Next years’ target for recycling in Cardiff for 2012/13 is 52%. At the moment it is high 40’s so looks
achieveable providing the people of Cardiff continue their recycling ways.
It was strange to think that the outputs of this process resulted in waste products to be sold to
market. And who said Britain has no manufacturing left???
In summary, it was a really interesting experience and we all left much more clued up than we were
It is a trip I would definitely recommend to other like-minded people.