Recycling planes, trains and automobiles…oh and a boat.

8 Dec

Back in the day, you may have known them to be called rubbish tips or dumps…… Now, we call them Household Waste Recycling Centres, the place where you can take your waste and recycling from home through normal day-to-day household activities and D.I.Y jobs.

Over the past month, we have been photographing some ‘unusual items’ brought to our Recycling Centres.
Amongst all the right recycling, we sometimes discover unusual stuff too…..

Here are our top three:

old-school-worksheetsIn 3rd place …A bygone age

You may remember these basic number cards from school, back when classrooms where full of boxes of worksheets. A retired teacher recycled the paper and boxes at Cemetery Road Recycling Centre.   The paper could come back as a cereal box, a newspaper or even next year’s Christmas cards!

Visit our Where does all your recycling go? page to find out what happens to the rest of your recycling.


model-planeIn 2nd place…

Is a N3419P Model plane, unfortunately one of its wings and tail were damaged so it was unable to fly anymore. A Bury resident threw it away at Cemetery Road Recycling Centre.   It will take it’s final journey  to one of our Energy Recovery Facilities and then transported by train to the Combined Heat and Power station in Runcorn to be made into green energy.



In 1st place…still-on-the-juice-boat

1st place goes to ‘Still on the Juice’. What’s that you ask? It was the most unusual item, a wonderful wooden boat brought to Chichester Street Recycling Centre because it was ‘beyond economical repair’. It was placed into the wood and timber recycling container.
The wood will be recycled, maybe into chipboard…… or used as biomass fuel to create green energy.

Along with all the unusual stuff you can also recycle your automobile waste such as car tyres, engine oil and car batteries!

To find out where your local Recycling Centre is and what else you can recycle visit our website.

To keep up to date with all things recycling -sign up to our quarterly  E-News or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Who knows? Maybe your unusual items will appear in future blogs!


Honey, I recycled the keys

16 Sep

We are coming to the end of the week and Recycle Week but weekends are a busy time for our Recycling Centres.  Around half a million vehicles visited our Recycling Centres in August and September. – that’s a lot of keen recyclers… some a little too keen. Some unexpected items get recycled by accident and like in slow motion, the moment you realise it, it’s too late… Luckily our dedicated staff are always up for the challenge (often optimistically looking for a needle in a haystack) to reunite the item with its owner.

Here are just some of the items that get accidentally recycled:

Mobile Phone

We’ve heard of plenty of excuses to upgrade to a new mobile handset but chucking it into a big skip takes it a bit far. As luck would have it (or not) Peter’s phone was balanced on the ledge of the skip at Boysnope Wharf Recycling Centre which was found by staff undamaged.  It was reunited with Peter when staff had the clever idea to call the last number dialed.



Staff and Emily’s purse


When Emily accidentally recycled her purse along with a bundle of cardboard it was not just the inconvenience of cancelling and replacing all her bank cards, that filled her with dread. She also kept a lock of hair in there from a family member that no amount of money could replace. She turned to Chester Road Recycling Centre staff for help, they painstakingly sorted through a massive pile of cardboard for over an hour in the baking heat to eventually find and return it.

Car Keys

We all know all sorts of metal can be recycled even old car keys but Isobel recycled her keys before their time potentially leaving her and her car stranded at Sandfold Lane Recycling Centre.   As the keys went ‘clunk’ right to the bottom of a full  scrap metal recycling container, hopes of retrieving them fell away, however our heroes of the day swiftly emptied the container and located the keys, reuniting them with a happy Isobel who could (literally) drive away.



Neil and his wedding ring

Wedding Ring

Some things can’t easily be replaced and a wedding ring is one of them.  This ring had extra sentimental value because is was made from his dad’s wedding ring and his mother-in-law’s jewellery both of whom have passed away. Neil realised it had slipped off his finger when recycling some bottles at Longley Lane Recycling Centre – after some rummaging, the ring was saved and it also saved Neil some earache from his wife!


Stuart and Lisa

Christmas Cash

Finally, Lisa thought she was pushing her luck when she hoped to find the £200 of Christmas money she had recycled.  The cash was packed in an envelope that  had been mistaken for waste paper on a New Year clear out. Devastated when she realised her mistake, Lisa rushed to Ash Road Recycling Centre with little hope that it could be found. Without any promises of success, Stuart from the Recycling Centre started a search through a nearly full skip of paper and card. After a meticulous and long search he was delighted he could hand back the cash to Lisa.

A big thank you to the staff and a big thank you to all the residents of Greater Manchester for their recycling efforts!  In August, 82% of waste at Recycling Centres was either recycled, composted or recovered for energy.


Recycling …the weird…the wonderful and ….what’s that?!?

14 Sep

It’s Recycle Week, so we thought we would pay a visit to the Materials Recovery Facility where all the mixed recycling from all the houses in Greater Manchester gets sorted-  however amongst all the right recycling we uncovered wrong (and weird) stuff too…


Around 300,000 tonnes of stuff from your mixed recycling bins is delivered to the MRF every day!

There should only be:

  • Drink and food cans
  • Aerosol cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminium foil and food trays


However, there are some over-zealous recyclers or some bin misusers who put the wrong stuff in the wrong bin so not everything that arrives at the MRF can be recycled.

These are just some of the items we picked out today at the MRF’s arrival hall where everything gets tipped out from the collection vehicles.


Electronics of any type, small or large shouldn’t go in your recycling bin,   Take them to your Recycling Centre – or why not try repairing  them? Stitched Up run a monthly repair café





Baby Bath Seat

Yes, they are all plastic, but they shouldn’t go in your recycling bin. We only recycle plastic bottles

If you have any other plastic put them in your general rubbish or waste bin.  Or perhaps that baby bath seat could have gone to a charity shop!


Pooh Bear

These poor toys have seen better days but they shouldn’t have ended up in the recycling bin if they were in good condition they could have been donated or otherwise they should go in your general rubbish bin.





Heres a bag, pillow and a t-shirt-  no textiles should go in any of your bins at home. Clothes and textiles can go to a charity shop or if they are too worn or torn they can go to the Recycling Centre.   Things like pillows and duvets can be donated to Dogs homes.



Sauce Pansimgp1688

Pots and Pans and other kitchenware whether its metal or plastic should not go in your recycling bin – put them in your general rubbish bin. Or take them to the Recycling Centre they can go in with scrap metal.





Unusual items We also found this item… this was a bit of a head-scratcher, we had no idea what it was. After much deliberation we found an opening and inside were the instructions!  Its an ice-cream ball!   (Yes you read it right).





 In all seriousness, contamination is a big issue.  If any of the items above get into the MRF it can cause blockages and even cause damage. It also affects the quality of the recycling that is sent for reprocessing.

So, remember in Greater Manchester, the only recycling you can put in your mixed recycling bin is:

  • Drink and food cans
  • Aerosol cans
  • Plastic bottles
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminium foil and food trays

For more information visit,  the Recycle Week page on our website.

Get involved… join us on Facebook and Twitter for a packed week of facts, hint and tips. #RecycleWeek

Top 5 things you thought you can’t recycle but you can!

8 Sep


It’s Recycle Week and this year is all about ‘The Unusual Suspects’. These are items that you might not think you can recycle or might forget about, – how many of The Unusual Suspects are you already recycling?

blue-plate-with-leftover-food-shutterstock1. Food leftoversif you haven’t got a dog that can eat your food leftovers, don’t put your plate scrapings in your general waste bin! Recycle all of your food waste in your kitchen caddy and put it in your food and garden recycling bin. 

Your food and garden waste is turned into Revive Compost 

Top Tip – please don’t use plastic carrier bags in your kitchen caddy, these don’t compost

4844-deodorant2. Aerosols – All types of empty aerosols can be recycled in your mixed recycling bin. So look out for deodorant, shaving foam, air fresheners, fly spray and hair care products. All you have to do is make sure it’s empty, remove the plastic lid, (put this in your general waste bin) and put the aerosol in your mixed recycling bin….easy!

Top tip – Think about having a separate recycling bin in the bathroom to make collecting your recycling easier.

Your aerosol cans with the rest of your mixed recycling is sorted at a Materials Recovery Facility




3. Cardboard cartons – such as juice, milk, soup or tomato cartons, also known as Tetra Paks – all of these can be recycled with your paper and cardboard. Just give them a rinse take off the plastic lid (put this in your general waste bin) and recycle them with your other paper and cardboard.




4844-foil-and-foil-trays4. Foil and foil trays – like kitchen foil and take-away foil trays. Once you’ve eaten your take-away, (and put any leftover food waste in your kitchen caddy), give the trays a quick rinse and put them in your mixed recycling bin along with other aluminium cans and tins.


Top Tip – Not sure if you can recycle some types of foil items? Do the scrunch test…if you can scrunch up the foil and it stays scrunched up, then you can recycle it. Try it with a crisp packet. Although these look like they have foil in them, we can’t recycle it because it’s mainly made of metallised plastic film not foil, so when you scrunch it, it will spring open.

4844-bonesBones – meat bones like chicken, fish, pork or beef etc…Although you might think that you can’t recycle them, as they wouldn’t compost in a garden compost bin, they can be recycled with all of your food and garden waste. 




Top Tip – Keep your kitchen caddy somewhere handy so you can collect all your left over food waste, raw and cooked food and anything that’s gone a bit mouldy.  Most people keep it under the sink or on the worktop.

So how many Unusual Suspects do you already recycle?

One?  Hopefully the guide has helped you to identify some of the Unusual Suspects around your home and will help you to recycle more.

More than 3? You’re well on the way to being a Top Class recycler!

All of them? Well done, you’re an expert recycler….share this blog to encourage people to recycle more of The Unusual Suspects.

Look out for our next blog all about the weird…the wonderful and mysterious items that people put into their recycling bins….

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to find out more about #RecycleWeek and the #TheUnusualSuspects


Who says weddings have to cost the earth?

12 Aug

Jess, R4GM’s very own Education Officer now Mrs. Mahoney, tied the knot in Australia in April.  Here she shares how she made her dream green wedding come true on a budget.

I had a dream…a dream of a wedding which was stress-free, waste-free and didn’t damage my bank account.

I didn’t fancy spending the next 6 months of my life trawling Pinterest and discovering my “inner” Martha Stewart. At the same time, I didn’t want it to look cheap and tacky or like I had just emptied the contents of my recycling bin on the table and let the kids have a craft day. I dreamt of it being pretty, magical ……all that unicorn, princess fairy tale stuff without creating unnecessary rubbish.

Not possible you say? You are living in bride coo-coo land you say? It was possible and I am sane. Now I will share with you all my magical secrets on how I managed to achieve this in just 6 months, 10,000 miles away from the wedding venue!


To save on all the paper, printing and posting, I sent E-invites ( I used a website called E-vite which was free).

The Dress

Jess pre loved wedding dress

The pre-loved wedding dress

We all know it is more environmentally-friendly to either hire a dress or buy a second- hand one. I have to admit I did dabble in some wedding outlet’s and bridal shops which had sample sales but the ones that did take my fancy were way too overpriced or the quality was not up to standard.

This is the dress that truly won my heart, it was a pre-loved beautiful designer dress by Willowby which I found on Bride2Bride (There were some lovely pre-loved dresses on Sell My Wedding Dress and Still White too). I bought it from a lovely lady who had only worn it for 2 hours!

What is even better is that I am going to pass my dress on for someone else to enjoy. Therefore my dress, in the end, will have cost me around £50 (at most) rather than over £1000 if I had bought it new.




I bought my veil (£3) and hair pieces (£5)  second hand from eBay .

My bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquet were from a place called Trinity Bridal Boutique, where they makes bouquets out of old pieces of ribbon, brooches and bits from old dresses.

My wedding ring was sustainably sourced white and rose gold and my Husband’s was a second hand carbon fibre ring from eBay.


I went for a minimal and zero waste theme. This meant that I didn’t buy anything that would be thrown away the next day.

My lovely husband (then fiancé) collected wine bottles (and had fun emptying the contents) painted half pink and half blue and wrapped them in ribbon. For the flowers, I didn’t want flowers that would just die so I bought silk ones that could be used again and again.

We gave the homemade wine vases and flowers to one of our friends and they are now nicely decorating their house.  As for my wedding favours I didn’t want to give my guest’s something they didn’t need or would just throw in the bin.

In place of wedding favours, I made a donation to the Dog’s Trust (all of the guests were dog-lovers).

We didn’t have a guest book, as we knew it would probably spend the rest of its life in a dark cupboard. Therefore I am going to be making a collage of the wedding cards so I remember the guest’s beautiful words (I found this idea here on Pinterest).

Food and Drink

I made sure to specify to the venue that we didn’t want anything disposable or single-use, we had reusable cutlery, glasses, napkins and plates.

To reduce food waste, the cake-maker (my husband’s sister) made sure that the middle layer of our wedding cake was the only real layer with the other two layers being foam (which she reuses for other cakes). This also saved me and my husband from having to live off cake for the next month!


Our honeymoon was the most glamourous part! We went all out by going off into the Australian Outback in a converted camper/transit van fully equipped with all the luxurious amenities: outside camp shower, portable camp stove, fold-away bed and the great outdoors as our own personal en-suite . On our Outback adventure we climbed big rocks and gave shelter to spiders bigger than my head- the perfect fairy-tale ending!

For more wedding inspirations read our previous blogs from guest blogger Alfred Chow as well as Tina and Bec’s wedding tips. 

A Recycled Wedding 

My Big Fat Green Wedding


Who manages your local Tip? (Recycling Centre) A Day in the Life of Alan Brown

15 Jan

When you visit your local Recycling Centre dropping off your unwanted household items, like me you probably drive in, chuck your rubbish and go!… But can you really appreciate what it takes to manage your local recycling facility?

Well, here’s an opportunity for you to take a look; Alan Brown, is a supervisor at the Viridor Recycling Centre off Raikes Lane in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Alan is 55, lives in Bolton with his wife and they have five grown up children. Alan has worked for Viridor since the late nineties and currently is a supervisor at the Raikes Lane Household Waste Recycling Centre.

The Raikes Lane Recycling Centre houses 15 skips that are filled with different items such as cardboard, garden waste and non-recyclable waste. It’s Alan’s job to ensure that the recycling centre runs smoothly and he works a shift pattern of 4 days in work and 4 days off work, with 12-hour days when he is in work. Each day he is supported by a team of 3 site operatives. The site constantly receives recyclable and non-recyclable waste such as wood, green waste, rubble, batteries, tyres, clothes, oil, cooking oil, small and large electrical items, TV’s, fridges, charity items such as: CD’s, furniture, books, shoes, clothes and all have to be either recycled, donated or burned. Alan keeps a check on all vehicles entering the site, what they are disposing of, keeping in touch with his team by radio, as he can’t always see them around the large site. It’s very important for him to keep the communication channels open with his team at all times so he is prepared for any eventualities. This requires Alan and his team to be vigilant at all times as they have to keep an eye out across the site to watch out for vehicles repeatedly visiting to ensure that they are only disposing of household waste. They regularly check the cameras to monitor repeat car registrations and speak to anyone that is thought to be to disposing of trade waste.

The site is for household waste only and part of Alan’s job is to explain to trade or commercial people why they can’t access the site, and what waste disposal facilities are available to them.

Alan Brown at the Raikes Lane Recycling Facility

 Alan indeed has many hats! Health and Safety on site is one of his key priorities which means ensuring staff and site visitors follow the correct procedures of which there are many. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as hard hats, high visibility vests and safety foot wear is essential at all times. In addition Alan ensures that all of the different material types are handled safely to minimise the risk of windblown litter, fire or spillages.

The control of hazardous waste is another key challenge for Alan. He needs to quickly identify if customers are carrying asbestos, plasterboard, car batteries, chemicals, paint and weed killer, so they can be directed to the right container. These items are then recorded using the Risk Assessment Management System (RAMs) to comply with strict COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) waste legislation and regulations.

Alan also manages the site evacuation procedures if it was necessary and is fully trained in first aid, in case a member of staff or the public became ill on site.

Alan’s job is full of variety, he needs to focus on serious matters such as the security and health and safety matters on site but also knows too well that you have to have a sense of humour in any job, especially this one for example;

Alan said “I remember when one member of the public tried to climb into one of the metal clothes banks to try to retrieve clothes rather than donate them. The man had to remove all of his own clothes so that he could slip through the small opening and he actually got stuck inside the container! I had to call the Fire Service to rescue the man from the metal clothes bin and they managed to retrieve him naked and shaken but thankfully intact. Every day is different in this job and you need to have a good sense of humour as well as knowing all of the health & safety regulations”.

The site gets really busy during Monday to Friday and numbers can reach up to 900 vehicles per day. Weekends are even busier with up to 1500 vehicles passing through the site on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Alan on site at the Raikes Lane Household Recycling Facility



The recycling industry has seen some big changes over recent years as the UK strives maximise recycling, recovery and re-use.

Alan say’s “Recycling is a massive industry, we are trying to recycle more and more items that can be invested back into valuable resources such as metal and plastic and another good example is the fact that Greater Manchester transform food and garden waste in to ‘Revive’ quality compost and sell it back to the public at a low cost”.

During his time with the company Alan has worked at many sites including Bredbury, Rose Hill, Over Hulton,  Adswood and Radcliffe to name a few. He has seen some unusual items being dropped off at the tip such as a large wooden coffin, which was fortunately empty!

Alan concluded to say “I really enjoy my job working at the Bolton facility which has certainly presented me with some new challenges. I could never get bored in this job, I like the responsibility and the variety and I like working outside and meeting lots of different people”.

 The New Year brings some new challenges for Alan, as he will soon be moving to another site to work at Radcliffe HWRC in the same role.

So the next time you visit the tip you will have more of an insight into how much is involved in the day-to-day running of your local recycling facility. For more information about your recycling visit

Ho! Ho! Homemade Christmas

2 Dec

So it’s that time of year again; the clocks have gone back and the dark evenings are here. This means only one thing to me…. No, not X-factor and Strictly! But yes, those dreaded three words: “Christmas is coming” Oh no, not the most wonderful time of the year! Yes maybe to those who are organised and start shopping in July but to me it’s just stressful shopping and excess expense. As a family a few years ago, because our ever expanding tree grew and grew we decided to only gift each other with small token gestures. This year I am going to try a different route! Homemade presents. Yes family, you heard me right, ‘Homemade!!’

So, I start looking around the house for things that I could reuse as this is supposed to be saving me money. Right, left over jars what could I do with them? (apart from recycling them in my mixed recycling bin). Got it, cookies in a jar! These are brilliant and can be made to contain various delightful treats; I decided on oat, raisin and chocolate cookies and chocolate chip brownies, they will do nicely for my nieces. All I need now are the ingredients, some leftover ribbon or material and labels.


Chocolate brownies in a jar

Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients to put inside the jar

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 95g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa
  • 75g plain flour
  • 135g brown sugar
  • 150g sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 100g white chocolate chips


Start by thoroughly cleaning the jars, old bolognese sauce and a chocolate brownie is not the best combo! I also sterilise the jars, just heat the oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1 and place the jars on a baking sheet in the oven to dry completely and let cool.

Layer the dry ingredients in the jar (you may need to adjust the quantities to fit your jar) following the order above, from top, starting with the salt, baking powder and flour. Press each layer down before adding the next. The amounts given should exactly fill a one litre jar.

jar 3 edit

Oat, raisin and chocolate cookies

Write instructions as follows on a tag or maybe reuse an old Christmas card and attached to the jar: Combine the contents of the jar with 150g melted butter and 3 beaten eggs. Mix well, and pour into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake at gas 4 / 180 C (160 fan) / 350 F for 25-35 minutes.

I have tied a little wooden spoon that I had to the jar just for effect (you can find more recipes at the end of this blog).


Now for the boys. So all the men in my family are football fanatics. One thing I find very frustrating is that each year their idolised team releases a new kit for the season. It is often a minute change but they always insist on buying a new shirt, donning it in honour of their hero’s. This inevitably leaves last year’s shirt at the back of the wardrobe never to see the light again until that fateful day it goes to the charity shop.  Well you know what I am going to say this year? ‘Stuff it’! Yes literary stuff it.

I dig out one of my son’s old shirts, turning it inside out I start by sewing the sleeves opening together, I need to stitch them securely so when stuffed the filling does not come out. I do the same on the neck, trying to retain the shape of the shirt. I then turn it back to right way and start to stuff. For this I use fiber stuffing and some cut up old clothes that are not good enough to donate to a charity shop.

shirt image

Football shirt cushion

You can stuff these cushions with almost any material or even beans from an old bean bag; you just need to make sure it’s nice and full. When stuffed stitch across the bottom and ‘hey presto!’ I have a football cushion for my nephew, ideal for the computer chair, hours of comfort whilst he wins virtual football championships.

Still on the football theme I have a quick and easy idea for the grown up men of the family, reindeer beer to enjoy whilst watching the Boxing Day match. I have bought a selection of tradition bottled ales and utilise a cardboard bottle carrier I saved. As art is not my strongest point I print off some sleigh images  and stick them along with a bit of festive tinsel to the bottle carrier. To transform the bottles into reindeer I simply use pipe cleaners as antlers, sticky googley eyes and a little red pompom for the nose. Really you can reuse anything that you have around the house; buttons, cardboard or paper are all useful materials. These reindeer are also great for Christmas parties and can be done on any size bottle.

beer 1

Reindeer Bottles

Just remember, once the contents of the bottle have been enjoyed, remove the antlers, eyes and nose before you put it in the correct recycling bin.

So now I have got just my sisters left. I had already started their presents about 2 months ago, my homemade plum and rum jam.  I used the recipe from our September  jamming blog and ploughman’s style chutney already to go I just need something to put them in.

As part of our free Recycle for Greater Manchester education experience, the creative education officers make gift bags out of old wall paper with the school classes. I have asked them to make a video of just how to do this.



So that’s me all set for the festive season (well almost).

The great thing is that all these presents are made out of things that are in and around our homes and can still be recycled when finished with. Right it must now be time for a mince pie and a mug of mulled wine.

Merry Christmas everyone!


More cookies in a jar recipes

Oat and chocolate chip cookies in a jar (1 litre jar)

  • 110g porridge oats
  • 110g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 170g plain chocolate chips
  • 165g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions for tag: Preheat oven to 180 C / gas 4. Grease baking tray, In a medium bowl, mix together 110g melted butter or margarine, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the jar. You may need to use your hands to finish mixing. Shape into walnut sized balls. Place 5cm apart on prepared trays. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Transfer cookies from trays to cool on wire racks.

Chocolate and fudge brownie mix in a jar (1 litre jar)

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 95g plain flour
  • 35g cocoa
  • 75g plain flour
  • 135g brown sugar
  • 150g sugar
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 10g white chocolate chips
  • 50g fudge (optional)

Instructions for the tag: Combine the contents of the jar with 150g melted butter and 3 beaten eggs. Mix well, and pour into a lined 9 x 9 inch tin. Bake in a preheated oven at gas 4 / 180 C (160 fan) / 350 F for 25-35 minutes.

Chocolate cookies with Smarties recipe (500 g Jar)

  • 180g plain flour, sifted
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • ½tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½tsp salt
  • 100g Smarties
  • 45g light soft brown sugar
  • 45g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Instructions for the tag: Combine the contents of the jar with 80g so butter and 1 beaten egg. Take large tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. Line and grease two baking trays and arrange the balls of dough, spaced well apart. Flatten each ball a little and bake for 10-12 minutes.