What happens to my recycling?

Find out what happens to your recycling, watch the video and book on a tour of the factory

About the Recycling Factory

Milton Keynes Council Materials Recovery Facility is the first purpose-built recycling factory in the UK.

Built in 1993, this state-of-the-art sorting facility processes recycling from MK residents clear recycling sacks, where a range of technologies sort and separate the paper, cans and plastics, etc. This is then baled ready for transportation to be made into new recycled products (PDF, 604KB) - we can even recycle the clear sack!

 Watch our factory video or see below to book a tour. The factory is normally operational Monday to Friday, 6am to 5pm, with occasional Saturdays after Bank Holidays and overtime.The MK Waste Recovery Park also offer tours where you can find out what happens to the rubbish from MK black bin bags.

A one-pass lorry at the recycling factory

All glass bottles and jars collected from blue boxes are sent to Sheffield to be recycled. Here they are placed into a furnace where it is all melted down. The molten glass can then be re-moulded into new bottles and jars. When different colour glass bottles and jars are melted together it all turns green as this is the dominant colour.

All batteries collected in yellow bags are sent to Birmingham. From there they are sent to furnaces to be melted down, the metals and acid are extracted to be made into new recycled products, including new batteries.

Food and garden waste is sent to an In-vessel composting facility in Cambridgeshire to create a low grade soil conditioner for agriculture.

New for Summer 2019- MK Museum Recycling Exhibition

Find out more about how recycling started in MK 25 years ago, what can be recycled today and more at our new recycling exhibition at MK Museum. From 20th July for 3 months MK Museum are kindly hosting our display in the room next to the School Room, where you can learn more about what happens to your recycling and rubbish in MK. Entry to the exhibition room is included in your admission fee. Find out more about MK Museum.

Public Tours

Public tours are free and only available to Milton Keynes residents. Visits include:

  • 15 minutes look around our hands-on displays
  • 1 hour 30 mins interesting presentation. The talk clarifies what can and cannot be recycled in Milton Keynes, what it is all recycled into and answers any questions you may have
  • 5 minute video of recycling factory
  • Then safety gear on and a 20 minute tour into the factory along a raised viewing gallery to see the machinery and staff at work.

Children must be seven years or older for health and safety reasons. The facility is accessible to wheelchair users, but not mobility scooters. These tours are popular so booking is essential.

  • Saturday 31st August 2019, 10am to 12.30pm - Fully booked, waiting list full
  • Thursday 24th October 2019, 10am to 12.30pm - Fully booked, waiting list only
  • Thursday 5th December 2019, 10am to 12.30pm
  • Tuesday 11th February 2020, 10am to 12.30pm

To book your place complete the online booking form 

Recycling Factory address: Colts Holm Road, Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes, MK12 5QD

Top of the page

School Tours

Free School trips to the Recycling Factory in Old Wolverton are hands-on, lively, educational, and are only available to Milton Keynes Schools. Visits include many curriculum links and aim to engage, enthuse and inform students about recycling, the environment and waste issues. The trip also helps students to understand that their actions make a difference. School trips are not available to schools outside the borough of Milton Keynes.

Book your school trip at the Schools Recycling Information page and download free classroom activities, crafts, wall displays and more to support your topic.

Top of the page

Community Tours

Local community groups, e.g. Scouts, Brownies, WI, Rotary Club are not currently able to book tours the Recycling Factory. Alternatively free tours of the new MK Waste Recovery Park are now available.  Tours of the MKWRP explain how black bin bag waste is processed and also covers recycling in MK.

Top of the page

Last Updated: 12 September 2019