Where Does Our Waste Go?

This page provides information on how our waste is managed, who manages it and where it goes.

For more information on what you can recycle or how to handle your waste, consult the Waste and Recycling A-Z.

For any clarification or further information do not hesitate to contact waste@reading.ac.uk.

Dry Mixed Recycling - cans, plastic bottles, tins, paper etc.

Once dry mixed recycling is placed in the recycling bins it is collected by the porters and cleaners and placed in various eurocart wheelie bins, skips and other bins across campus. The University's waste contractor then collects the waste and transports it to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is where recyclable materials  are sorted into different types (e.g. plastics, cardboard, paper, metal) using a mixture of manual and automated methods. When the materials have been sorted they are sent to re-processors and manufacturers where they are used to create new products.

Paper, Card and Confidential Waste

Paper and card is collected from eurocart wheelie bins, skips and compactors across the campus by the University approved waste contractor. Non confidential paper and card waste is sent to a paper mill for recycling.

Confidential waste is shredded on site weekly by our waste contractors. It is then taken to the paper mill for recycling.

The paper recycling process begins with the paper products being separated into categories and then washed with soapy water to remove any inks, plastic film, staples and glue. This creates a slurry which different materials can be added to and create different paper related products (cardboard or office paper). The slurry is then rolled out and left to dry, rolled back up and then sent out to be used.

General Waste

The University's approved waste contractor collects general waste on campus from a variety of skips and wheelie bins.  General waste should only be waste that cannot currently be recycled - please remember to segregate your waste correctly.  99% of University's general waste is sent to Energy From Waste (EfW). This waste is burned with the resulting steam powering a turbine which generates electricity. The residual waste after the burning is either recycled (metals) or sent to landfill (ash).

Landfill. If waste is not suitable for the EfW plant e.g. it is hazardous, rubble or plaster board then the waste is collected by the University's approved waste contractor and sent to landfill. Less that 1% of University waste is taken to landfill.


Dry-cell batteries can be recycled on campus. Waste batteries are stored in Kegs/Boxes then collected by the University's approved waste contractor. The batteries are sorted at their transfer station and taken to a hazardous waste disposal facility.  The battery is broken apart into pieces and placed into a vat where the lead and heavy materials fall to the bottom and the plastic floats. At this point, the plastic pieces are scooped away and the liquids are drawn off, leaving the lead and heavy metals. Each of the materials goes into a different recycling stream, where each different material is recycled in their own way.

Feminine Hygiene

Feminine hygiene waste is collected by a contractor from sanitary waste bins on campus. The waste is collected and taken to an incineration plant for disposal.

Food Waste

Food waste from catering outlets on campus is collected by the University approved waste contractor from our 240lt wheelie bins.  The primary disposal process for the University's food waste is anaerobic digestion. The collected food waste is used in anaerobic digesters to produce renewable energy. Approximately 100 tonnes of food waste recycled via Anaerobic Digestion on campus per year.

Organic waste material is stored in an oxygen free environment in the presence of a population of anaerobic micro-organisms. In this anaerobic environment, biochemical reactions occur that convert organic matter into methane rich biogas and nutrient rich digestate. These biogases are used to produce renewable energy. The digestate is a nutrient rich liquid or sludge which is used to produce fertilizers.

IT Equipment

IT equipment that is broken or no longer in use, is collected centrally at the University. To dispose of your IT equipment, please submit disposal request via The Disposal Request Form to arrange collection. The waste is collected by an approved contractor and taken to one of their facilities. The contractor strips down each item to recycle the individual parts. Any data holding components are securely destroyed in line with University data protection policies and other governmental policies.

Waste Cooking Oil

Cooking oil is used at all the University catering units such as ParkEat and Central Kitchen. Any waste cooking oil is stored in 120 litre drum and collected by a company that recycles and reuses the oil.The waste oil is sorted at a plant and processed to create biodiesel. This biodiesel can be used to fuel diesel cars and generators, giving more than a 90% greenhouse carbon saving compared to regular fossil diesel. 


Wood on campus is collected and stored centrally ready to be collected. Its primary disposal point is the University approved waste contractor - transfer station. Its secondary disposal point is a local facility, where wood is sorted and then recycled.

Wood from grounds maintenance activities is collected by ground contractors and used as biodiesel or chipped to produce mulch . Solid wood (e.g. pallets) or broken furniture – this will be collected by the Porters via the Disposal System taken to a central located ready to be collected for recycling.

Clinical Waste

Clinical waste is any waste which poses a threat of infection to humans. The term also includes drugs or other pharmaceutical products.

Non-Infectious Clinical Waste: The waste is collected by the University approved waste contractor and sent to their transfer station. The waste is then taken to the material recovery facilities, where it is cleaned and sterilized. The waste is then heated, shredded and finally separated into different fractions such as plastics, organics etc. The byproducts can then be recycled (glass, paper, metal).

Infectious Clinical Waste: The infections clinical waste is also collected by the University approved waste contractor and taken directly to a facility that use rotoclave.  This process uses recycled water at an extremely high temperature to achieve 99.9% sterilization, this technology sterilizes clinical waste for disposal or recycling. They also provide a complete destruction service for sharps waste.

Fluorescent Tubes

Fluorescent light tubes and Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or low-energy bulbs, as well as bulbs from projectors, are classified as hazardous waste. Do not place these in the recycling or general waste bins. On campus the majority of fluorescent light tubes are collected centrally. The tubes are collected by the University approved waste contractor sent to a facility for recycling.

The lamps and tubes are pre-broken, they are washed to remove contaminants, a distiller is then used to extract the elemental mercury, which is reused, and phosphor powder. The glass, metals and plastics are broken down into smaller pieces, these materials are then separated and sent on to other recycling plants for further recycling, and turned into something new.

Glass Recycling

All glass on campus is collected from bottle banks and bins by the University approved waste contractor. The glass is then sent to be sorted and then sent top a glass furnace to produce new glass bottles and containers. This remelt process can be repeated over and over again. This not only saves valuable natural resources but also saves energy and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.


Smaller items (tins, cans, foil) can be placed in the mixed recycling bins which are then taken to the mixed recycling facility (See Mixed Recycling above).

Larger items are collected on campus centrally or in skips and taken away for recycling.  The metal compacted or squeezed, separated based on properties and then taken to a furnace that is specifically designed to melt that particular metal. After the molten metal is purified, it is cooled and solidified, then packaged to be reused.

Waste Electricals

Waste Electrical and electronic equipment, or WEEE, are items that are powered by the mains or by batteries to carry out their primary function.  These should not be disposed of in the general waste. WEEE waste can also be deemed as hazardous waste if they contain harmful substances. These items need to be stored safely and securely to prevent pollution in line with the Hazardous Waste Regulations and to prevent risk to health.

WEEE is collected on site centrally before being collected by the University's approved waste contractor. The waste is then taken to their transfer station, sorted and collected for recycling locally. The current recycling facility has an in-house dis-assembly line and range of specialist processing equipment recycles tonnes of this type of end of life equipment every day.

Skip to content