Dawn In The Surrey Hills

Where did Surrey’s waste go?

Type of wasteWaste treated or recycled in UKWaste treated or recycled in European Union (EU) - known locationsWaste treated or recycled in European Union (EU) - exact location unknownWaste treated or recycled outside European Union (EU) - known locationsWaste treated or recycled outside European Union (EU) - exact location unknownExact location unknown
Total waste76.9%1.1%14.6%3.0% 4.2%0.2%
Total recycling 83.4%1.8%1.3%5.6%7.7%0.3%
Dry mixed recycling60.9%4.1%3.1%13.6%18.2%0.2%
Food waste100.0%0.0%0.0% 0.0%0.0%0.0%
Garden waste100.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Other recycling (such as scrap metal, batteries and paint)97.7%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%2.3%
Small electricals100.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Total rubbish69.2%0.2%30.6%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Sent to energy from waste66.2%0.2%33.6%0.0%0.0%0.0%
Sent to landfill100.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%

Note: dry mixed recycling refers to paper and card, glass, plastics and metal put into household recycling bins.

At 76.9%, most of Surrey’s waste stayed in the UK to be treated or recycled. However, where it couldn’t stay in the UK, most of the remaining waste went to countries within the EU.

83.4% of Surrey’s recycled waste was recycled in the UK, most of which went to Northamptonshire, Somerset and Buckinghamshire. However, sometimes it’s not possible for waste to be recycled in the UK. This can be because there isn’t the demand in this country for the new product that is produced by the recycling process, or there aren’t enough facilities in the UK to recycle the amount of waste produced. The most common destination for Surrey’s waste to be recycled abroad was Germany.

Over two thirds of rubbish was treated in the UK. Of the small amount that was sent to landfill, it all remained within the UK. When rubbish was sent to an energy from waste facility, 66.2% of it went to facilities in the south east of England with the rest travelling to countries within the EU. Currently, there isn’t enough capacity at energy from waste facilities in the UK to treat all of the rubbish produced here, which is why some of it is exported.

The exact destination that some waste goes to be treated or recycled is unknown. This is because for local authority reporting, the exporter is only obliged by the Environment Agency to report the country of destination and not the full address details of where it ends up. Therefore, we sometimes only know the continent that the waste goes to, which is why a percentage of waste is recorded as unknown.

When waste is passed on to other organisations to be exported and treated or recycled, Surrey County Council works with those organisations to ensure it goes to an appropriate facility and is treated responsibly.

See also

Surrey’s target


70% of Surrey’s waste should be recycled.