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What happens to my waste and recycling


Our waste management strategy sets out a clear policy and actions to help guide future waste management decisions in County Durham.

In County Durham we manage, on average, over 240,000 tonnes of household waste each year and we reuse, recycle and compost over 40% of this.

This is how we achieve this:

  • Approximately 50,000 tonnes of recycling collected from County Durham homes each year is currently sent to our material recycling contractor Biffa in Hartlepool.
  • Approximately 50,000 tonnes of household waste collected from the household waste recycling centres, currently managed and operated by HW Martin Ltd.
  • Approximately 130,000 tonnes of rubbish collected from County Durham homes each year and is sent to Suez's energy from waste plant on Teesside.
  • We no longer send household rubbish to landfill as it is burned through energy from waste to create energy.
  • From across County Durham, we produce on average 60,000 MWh (Megawatt hours) from energy from waste which can power 19,000 households in one year.

An addendum to the original strategy was produced in March 2010 which updates the original strategy and identifies key challenges for the future. It is included in our Icon for pdf Waste Management Strategy (PDF, 2.6mb) . For more information, or a copy of the original strategy please contact us.

Strategy progress

A report to our Cabinet in October 2014 (item 10 on the agenda) demonstrates progress towards the strategy's objectives and commitments. It provides a full appraisal of the current waste management service delivery and performance including:

  • residual waste (contract, haulage, waste transfer stations)
  • household waste recycling centres (HWRCs)
  • collection arrangements
  • landfill and closed sites
  • waste prevention
  • waste education and behavioural change

DEFRA Resources and Waste Strategy for England

On 18 December 2018, DEFRA announced the Resources and Waste Strategy for England. The strategy sets out plans to double resource productivity and eliminate avoidable waste of all kinds (including plastic waste) by 2050.

The strategy sets out how to: 

  • preserve our stock of material resources by minimising waste, promoting resource efficiency and moving towards a circular economy
  • minimise the damage caused to our natural environment by reducing and managing waste safely and carefully
  • deal with waste crime

It combines actions which will be taken now and provides firm commitments for the coming years and gives a clear longer-term policy direction in line with the 25 Year Environment Plan. 

Energy from waste 

Energy from waste describes the generation of energy (electricity and/or heat) by incineration of waste that will burn. Modern waste disposal strategies recognise that non-recycled waste can be used to generate energy, which is an environmentally sound and economically sensible way of reducing landfill and substituting waste for fossil fuels.

Monitoring energy from waste

Energy from waste is supported by the Government, including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), as well as technical specialists including the Environmental Agency and Public Health England. The Environment Agency monitors the gases that are created through the burning process and ensures that strict limits on emissions are adhered to. Energy from waste accounts for less than one per cent of dioxins into the air in the UK.

Why we recycle wherever we can

All materials that are recycled are made into something new and paper, plastics, glass and metal cans can be recycled over and over again. By putting recyclable materials in your black bin you are not giving these materials the opportunity to be recycled. It is also more expensive to process material at the energy from waste facility than recycle them so we always prefer to recycle where possible.

Contact us
Waste Management
03000 26 1000
Our address is:
  • Durham County Council
  • County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ
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