All recycling collected in Norfolk goes to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Costessey. You can now look around the inside of the facility with an interactive, 360º video.

The video shows what happens to your recycling after it’s been collected from your home in Norfolk and gives you the chance to see inside the recycling centre – following how paper and plastic from your recycling bins are sorted by hand and by machine.

The video can be viewed on a desktop, mobile, tablet or VR headset – just click or tap on the picture below.

Click on image to view interactive 360 video of the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)


Items you place in your recycle bin at home go to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Costessey, just outside Norwich.

Please watch the video below to see what happens when it gets there.

For a list of what you can put in your recycle bin, please visit our My Recycling Bin page.

WHERE DOES YOUR RECYCLING GO? Your questions answered

What happens to my recycling after it is collected from my bin?

All household recycling in Norfolk is sent to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Costessey to be sorted.

There is a 360° video on our website of what happens to your recycling once it arrives at the MRF.

Once the recycling has been sorted, it is then baled up and sent out to different reprocessing facilities.


How much of our recycling is sent abroad and how much stays in the UK?

90% of recycling from household bins in Norfolk is sent to reprocessing plants in the UK and 10% is sent abroad.


Which materials does Norfolk send abroad for recycling?

Cardboard is currently the only material being sent from the MRF to reprocessing plants in other countries. This is done through a broker, which provides the MRF with legal, fully transparent documentation that ensures its end destination and that it is going to a compliant and suitably licensed facility for recycling.


Why isn’t our cardboard recycled in the UK?

Cardboard is sent abroad as there are no recycling facilities in the UK with enough capacity to deal with the amount of cardboard we throw away. Also, lots of the cardboard we use comes from other countries originally in the form of packaging for products we buy from abroad.


Are any checks made on the cardboard we send abroad?

Inspectors visit the MRF regularly to check the quality of the cardboard being sent out to their companies. They can refuse to collect entire loads of cardboard if any of it is found to be damp or dirty. This is why we ask people to make sure all their recycling is clean and dry, as otherwise materials can become contaminated and end up not being sent for recycling. As mentioned above, the MRF is provided with legal and fully transparent documentation about all products going abroad, ensuring they are recycled.


Where do plastics from household recycling bins in Norfolk go?

Plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays are sorted at the MRF and separated into different types of the material. HDPE plastics (milk bottles) and PET plastics (drinks bottles) are sent on to Lancashire and mixed pots, tubs and trays are sent to Viridor at Rochester in Kent.

After this, where any plastic is sent abroad by Viridor, the company only works with EA- accredited and licensed facilities. Viridor has a ‘robust system of traceability with regard to its supply chain, and receive accreditation from the companies it works with, demonstrating reprocessing (recycling) has taken place’.


How much of the plastics that go through the MRF are recycled?

97.4% of plastics that go through the MRF are sent on to be recycled. and plastic forms about 8% of the weight of input material. There is some loss in the process and some of this is due to plastics being dirty (still containing food/drink). Please make sure your recycling is clean dry and not in plastic bags when it goes into your bin at home.


Why can I not put my recycling in plastic bags?

We are not able to send plastic bags for recycling as there are no viable markets for them. Please reuse the bags or take them back to your local supermarket to be recycled. There is no easy way of removing recycling from plastic bags at the MRF, so any recycling that is not loose will be taken out of the sorting system and will not be recycled.


Is there any demand for recycled plastics?

Yes, there is plenty of demand for recycled plastics (especially milk bottles and drinks bottles) and new reprocessing facilities for plastic are being built in the UK.


Do you pay to have materials recycled or are you paid for the materials?

This depends on the material, the quality of those materials and what the markets are like. There is an absence of price stability in the recycling industry and this means sometimes we pay to have materials recycled and at other times we are paid for those materials.

Making sure things are clean and dry before they are placed in your bin increases the chances of them being recycled.