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Biffa's guide to recycling at Birmingham 2022

21 Jul 2022
5 mins

Everything you need to know about recycling at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

At Biffa, we are proud to be the Official Waste Management and Recycling Provider at Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. While athletes are competing and spectators are cheering, we’ll be behind the scenes working with the Birmingham 2022 team to help make this the most sustainable games yet and commit to sending zero waste to landfill.

Birmingham is expected to see more than a million visitors during the 12 days of the Games. That’s a million people eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves in 15 venues across the West Midlands, with well over five times the amount of people who attend Glastonbury. We are working toward the most sustainable Commonwealth Games yet by helping athletes and spectators recycle more and recycle better.     

Download our Guide to Recycling at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Recycling guide
We are expecting a total of 1,400 tonnes of waste to be generated at Birmingham 2022 venues, combining recyclable and non-recyclable waste. That all needs to be collected, sorted, shipped, and processed. We excel at this but can only do so much; in order to avoid wasting recyclable materials, we need everyone to put their empties in the right bins and make sure they are not contaminated.

That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to recycling at Birmingham 2022, explaining why recycling properly is important, how to recycle when you’re at the venues, and what happens to your recycling after it is taken away. The information on where to deposit different types of waste is useful beyond the Games too - whether that is for work or home.

Why should I take time to recycle properly?  

Putting litter in the right bin will stop it being wasted; it means we can sort it and process it to become raw material for new products. If food or drink products are dropped into recycling bins, then good recyclables end up being wasted as they become contaminated. In fact, there is a chance that the whole load will become contaminated. 

Once recycling reaches one of our facilities, it goes through a combination of manual and automated sorting. It is not safe or hygienic for our operatives to clean individual receptacles, so anything contaminated must be removed from the line. We do this as contaminated waste can damage equipment, halting the automated processing. 

Our recycling facilities play an essential role in protecting our resources and our environment. In the UK, we don’t have enough recycling capability to process the amount we produce, so all facilities need to be running smoothly at full capacity. If they cannot function properly, the materials stack up and more recyclable materials will be wasted. 

You might not think that emptying your leftovers into a food waste bin and recycling the tray will make a difference. But it does – especially when it comes to the thousands of plastic food trays likely to be served.  

How can I recycle at the Games?   

The first step is to look around and make sure you’ve picked up everything. Check the packaging for symbols to find out if it is recyclable. 

Each venue will have conveniently placed red bins to discard your waste, with clear stickers to indicate what can and cannot be recycled in each bin:
Bin stickers
If you have food or drink left in your container, empty the leftovers into the food waste before recycling the container. If you cannot clean off the food, then it is contaminated and needs to be disposed of in General Waste. As with items that are not recyclable, the contents of General Waste bins will be processed as energy from waste to recover a source of low carbon energy. 

If you have any questions about what to recycle and where, more than 100 Biffa volunteers will be on hand at event venues across Birmingham. They are giving up their time to support athletes and spectators to recycle more and recycle better. They are our recycling ambassadors and we’re very proud of them!   

What happens to recycling at Birmingham 2022?

Our commitment to Birmingham 2022 is that zero waste will go to landfill. Waste and recycling all have their own journeys dependent on the type of material. Over the 12 days we are expecting:

400 tonnes of mixed recycling

  • Transferred from the venues directly to our local depot in Tipton 
  • Mixed recycling is unloaded and manually sorted into material types
  • Contaminated materials are removed and put with non-recyclables 
  • Plastic is bailed, ready to be shipped to Biffa’s polymer plant at Seaham
  • Our Seaham team transforms the plastic feed stock into raw pellets
  • Plastic pellets are sold on and used to create new products  
Additional recycling:
  • Paper and cardboard are bailed and shipped to our partner in the West Midlands    
  • Expected 20 tonnes of metal shipped to our partner in the West Midlands
  • Expected 100 tonnes of glass shipped to our partner in the West Midlands   

230 tonnes of food waste  

  • Collected by a specialist vehicle 
  • Shipped directly to our Anaerobic Digestion plant at Poplars
  • Food waste is treated and processed to create biogas
  • Biogas then fuels clean energy for the West Midlands
  • Biproduct is a fertiliser used in agriculture     

600 tonnes of non-recyclable waste   

  • Collected from venues and unloaded at Tipton transfer station
  • Contaminated recycling is removed and added to non-recyclable waste 
  • Non-recyclable materials are shredded and bailed
  • Bails are then processed to recover low carbon energy  

In turn, no waste will end up in landfill and none will be exported. We’re getting involved by helping to make Birmingham 2022 the most sustainable Commonwealth Games yet and you can get in on the action by recycling responsibly. 

Download our Guide to Recycling at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games 

Create value from waste

We help businesses of all sizes recycle more and create value from waste. This can be as simple as reusing surplus stock, or as complex as finding better ways to package your products. All businesses have different needs, we build our services around yours. If you’re looking for a quote in minutes, just use our online tool.

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Author: Biffa

This article was written by one of Biffa's own experts and content writers.