Recycling Facility Visits
Our material recycling facilities welcome visits from schools, universities and community groups to help share the knowledge about waste processing.
Waste Services would encourage groups to visit our recycling facilities for a tour to gain knowledge about what happens to West Lothian's waste once it has been collected.
If you would be interested in visiting the facility, please complete our Waste Education Request Form.
Biffa Recycling & Waste Management Facility
Biffa, which is located in Broxburn, West Lothian, is where all West Lothian mixed dry recycling waste is taken to be processed and recycled. Biffa is our 'blue bin' recycling facility and they are happy to take visits from schools, universities and community groups. We have had many groups visit the site to learn about our blue bin recycling and how all of the waste is separated and processed.
For more information, please read an article from a West Lothian resident who recently visited Biffa telling of her experience and the information she received - Recycling - let's get it right
West Lothian Recycling Centre Tours
Please note that unfortunately we are unable to provide tours to nurseries, schools and community groups for the 5 Community Recycling Centres located in Blackburn, Broxburn, Oakbank, Linlithgow and Whitburn. Health and Safety guidelines require Waste Services to close the Recycling Centres during the visits and provide Councillors and residents with prior notification. Residents who attend the Recycling Centres during the visits must wait until the sites are reopened before they can dispose of their waste. This has caused traffic congestion outside of the sites and inconvenience to Recycling Centre users.
The Waste Education and Engagement team work with many residents and community groups in West Lothian and we are always interested in hearing about your experiences taken from our talks, trips and activities. Please see some excerpts below from residents within West Lothian.
An article by a local resident who recently visited our blue bin recycling centre, Biffa, alongside other Burgh Beautiful and Transition Linlithgow members.
In attempting to be responsible citizens I'm sure most of us try to do "our bit for the environment" by minimising waste and recycling what we can. We put our recyclables into our blue bins and the local council take away the contents. But what happens next? Members of Transition Linlithgow and Burgh Beautiful recently visited the Biffa Waste Recycling Centre in Broxburn to find out.
The centre is effectively a large, open warehouse which processes blue bin contents from both West Lothian and Edinburgh City councils. Trucks full of waste arrive every few minutes with waste then being shovelled onto a series of conveyor belts. Large revolving cylinders then sort the waste by size. From then on, it's a manual process to sort cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, tubs, and metal cans into storage areas below. It's a thankless task with everybody working at great speed, never taking their eyes off the seemingly unending line of waste.
At the end of the sorting process aluminium cans, steel cans, paper, cardboard and plastic are compacted into large bales which are then sold on to different companies for further specialised processing. Shockingly, there's also a huge mountain of discarded items which are sent to landfill.
So what did we learn?
About 30% of the blue bin material delivered from West Lothian ends up in landfill. This is due mainly to food contamination. Interestingly, this figure is much lower for Edinburgh council.
All items put into our blue bins therefore must be clean of food waste. Accidentally "binning" plastic containers with some of their food contents still inside will not only contaminate the contents of that bin but also the other blue bins that are emptied into the same waste collection truck, and potentially, more waste at the recycling facility.
Nothing should be put in plastic bags and then put into the blue bin. The sorting process goes at such a rate that the sorters simply don't have the time to empty these bags, so all will end up in landfill.
Check what types of plastic can be accepted on the West Lothian Council website. Materials such as cling film and items made from polystyrene cannot be recycled and go to landfill. Until recently much of this plastic was bought by China, but this stopped in January 2018, and so far, our own plastic reprocessing infrastructure has not developed sufficiently to cope with this type of waste.
The list of what can be put into our blue bins is on the West Lothian Council website at Blue Bins . This includes the following:
Paper and cardboard (but remember to remove any plastic windows from envelopes and food packaging)
Plastic bottles (clear and coloured plastic is ok as are bottle tops. But all must be empty and rinsed clean)
Aluminium and steel tins and cans (empty and rinsed clean)
Plastic food pots, tubs, cartons, trays and lids (all need to be empty and cleaned)
Waste management is a costly business. Our council pay BIFFA to dispose of our blue bin contents; a figure which increases the more they have to send straight to a landfill site. Wouldn't it be great if we could all learn to recycle responsibly?