What happens to our waste and recycling?

Waste and recycling from across the islands, that is managed by the Council, is brought to the St Mary’s Waste and Recycling Centre where it is stored and processed before its final disposal. Some waste and recycling materials e.g. glass, rubble and hardcore, and garden waste are retained on island for re-use/recycling. Other materials, which cannot be recycled or disposed of locally, such as residual waste, dry mixed recycling, cardboard and paper, and hazardous items e.g. asbestos and electricals are sent to the mainland, where they can be safely processed for recycling/disposal. 

The Council is required to ensure that it undertakes legal responsibilities under Duty of Care legislation in the safe handling, transportation and final disposal routes for all material. The Council has contracts in place for all waste and recycling it manages to ensure it complies with the legislation and in particular tracking the movement of waste and recycling until it reaches its final destination, as per contracts in place.

The table below shows where our various waste and recycling streams go and who manages this material on our behalf.

Material Stream

Waste Transfer Station

Final Waste Destination

Residual Waste

SUEZ UK Ltd. Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre / Pool or Launceston Transfer Station

SUEZ Uk Ltd. Cornwall Energy Recovery Centre.

Dry Mixed Recycling

SUEZ UK Ltd. Avonmouth Material Recycling Facilities

Dry mixed recycling is sent to the SUEZ UK Ltd. Avonmouth plant for segregation for onward processing.

From SUEZ Uk Ltd. Plastic recycling is then sent to a UK third party where it is reprocessed and re-used.

Cans and other metals are also sent by SUEZ UK Ltd. to a UK third party manufacturer for use in metal and processing industries.

Cardboard and paper SUEZ UK Ltd. Redruth, Cornwall From SUEZ UK Ltd. is sent to a third party UK paper processing mill.


Is processed at the St Mary’s Waste and Recycling Centre

The glass is broken down on site and sold locally as hard core.

Garden waste

Is stored at the St Mary’s Waste and Recycling Centre

Parting Carn Farm, St Mary's for on island composting. The resulting material is sold locally.

Electrical waste

Is stored at the St Mary’s Waste and Recycling Centre

Light Brothers, Sussex to break down/separate materials to be recycled.

Rubble and Hardcore Is stored at the St Mary’s Waste and Recycling Centre Pendrethan Quarry, St. Mary's.


Energy from Waste (EfW)

All residual waste that is managed by the Council is under contract for its haulage to the mainland (Isles of Scilly Steamship Co.) and final disposal (SUEZ UK Ltd.). The final disposal destination for residual waste is the Cornwall Energy from Waste plant, at St. Dennis.

'There is a significant environmental benefit to processing general waste through EfW.

Burying biodegradable waste in a landfill produces methane, which as a greenhouse gas is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is a key contributing factor to climate change.

In line with the waste hierarchy, once economically recyclable materials have been collected, Energy from Waste (EfW) remains the best option for treating residual waste.

EfW provides reliable, decentralised, low-carbon electricity to power 1.8m UK homes and could support more low-carbon local heat networks recommended within the Clean Growth Strategy.

Modern advances in EfW plants have also significantly improved performance efficiency and emissions, as well as saving 200kg CO₂e per tonne of waste diverted from landfill. This can be further improved as we recycle more and utilise more heat.

All this is achieved whilst keeping waste management costs down for business, which is critical during a period when budgets are severely constrained.’

Image Source: SUEZ UK Ltd. 


You can find more information on the below websites:

SUEZ Cornwall 

Sussex Recycling Centre & Waste Management Site | Brighton | Light Bros

Morris & Co. (Handlers) Ltd (morrismetal.com)