Leading recycling and waste management company Viridor has developed a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in West Sussex that is groundbreaking in terms of its use of automation.
Viridor won the PFI Recycling & Waste Handling Contract for West Sussex in 2004. Under this 25-year agreement, the company has made a long term commitment to helping the area improve its recycling rates. The new, automated MRF is a critical factor in recovering valuable materials from the waste streams of 330,000 households. The facility is so advanced that it has reduced manual input to an absolute minimum. The paper and plastics sorting lines, which are equipped with TITECH sensor-based sorting systems, have no need for human intervention in the sorting process at all.
Sorting requirements The design for the new MRF has been developed following close consultation between TITECH, Viridor and the plant builders CD Engineering and optimises the use of the latest mechanical and optical sorting techniques. The development phase included fact-finding trips to TITECH installations in Germany to see how their systems were being used to best effect in other modern MRFs.
The West Sussex MRF is capable of processing around 18 tonnes of materials every hour and has a total capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year. It sorts co-mingled household materials including glass, paper, plastics and metals. The MRF uses a number of mechanical separation techniques to presort these materials by general type and size, with TITECH sensor-based sorting systems being used to optimise the purity and quality of the final paper and plastics fractions.
There are seven TITECH sensor-based sorting systems at Viridor’s new MRF. Once the paper and mixed polymers have passed through the pre-sorting stages of the MRF, four TITECH systems check the lines for contaminants. They remove plastics from the paper line, redirecting these materials for further sorting, while any paper that has found its way into the plastics stream is similarly removed and re-routed. Three further TITECH systems are dedicated to sorting the resulting polymer fractions. They are currently programmed to isolate clear and coloured PET and clear and coloured HDPE.
Benjamin Eule, Project Manager for Viridor, says: “The new MRF in West Sussex has been designed to optimise the quality and quantity of the materials we are recovering from the municipal waste stream. The TITECH systems are a critical part of this process and enable us to achieve much better recovery rates than we ever could using manual checking.
“By eliminating the human element, we are able to run the sorting lines 24 hours a day with no loss of performance. In addition, the systems are easily programmable which gives us a high degree of flexibility. Should the need arise, we can simply reset them to target other polymers or contaminants.'