Britain’s largest MRF achieves higher value materials with TITECH
Greenstar, one of the UK's leading recycling-led waste management companies, is using TITECH automated sorting systems at its Aldridge-based MRF – currently the largest MRF in Britain.
The company provides a comprehensive range of recycling services for both local authorities and businesses throughout the UK and Northern Ireland. As part of the Greenstar and Ireland Group it operates over 40 facilities throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, and is responsible for the removal, reprocessing and disposal of over 1.4 million tonnes of waste and recyclables each year.
When the company made a strategic commitment to develop a new materials recovery facility (MRF) to serve the densely-populated West Midlands region, it called in TITECH, the leading authority on automated sorting systems.
Greenstar wanted to offer local authorities and commercial companies a facility that could accept both commingled and segregated recyclables. Using the latest technology and equipment, the company aimed to process these materials to the highest standards.
A former steelworks at Aldridge was earmarked for the new MRF. Greenstar involved TITECH at a very early stage in the planning phase. Ian Wakelin, CEO of Greenstar, explains: “We have a good relationship with TITECH and have used them on other Greenstar projects. Their specialist knowledge, combined with our own in-house design expertise, enabled us to purchase the optical sorting equipment we required directly.”
Aldridge is designed to process recyclables such as glass, plastics, aluminium, steel, paper and cardboard. It is equipped with five TITECH optical sorting systems, which specifically recover plastics from the input stream. These automated sorters are not only capable of extracting HDPE, PET, PVC and PE from glass, paper and metals, they also further sort the polymers by colour to produce very pure fractions of clear PET and natural HDPE.
Says Ian Wakelin: “The consistency that TITECH delivers in polymer and colour sorting is a key differentiator. As a result, the recovered materials have a high purity rate and can command a higher price than they would otherwise attract.”
According to Greenstar, the price per tonne for natural HDPE produced using TITECH automated sorting is up to 55% higher than that for standard mixed bottles. Clear PET commands around a 20% premium.
The automated sorting also enables high purity materials to be produced in commercially viable amounts. “We are sorting 22,000 bottles per tonne, but these items represent only 16 per cent by volume of the materials passing through our Aldridge plant,” says Ian Wakelin. “When your annual throughput is in excess of a quarter of a million tonnes, using people to sort on this scale is simply not an option. TITECH’s automated sorting systems enable us to recover valuable materials safely and economically without compromising on quality or quantity.”
Greenstar’s new facility at Aldridge was commissioned in May 2008. Covering 140,500 square feet and designed with a processing capacity of 300,000 tonnes per year, Aldridge is not only currently the largest MRF in Britain but also one of the largest in Europe.