Wednesday, 12 November 2014 11:37

Industry to get more materials from plastic waste after Kent opening

A £12.5 million Plastics Recycling Facility has opened in Rochester, Kent. It will enable local councils and businesses to recycle more of their plastic 'waste' into quality raw materials for industry.

viridor plasticrecycle1 copyThe project by recycling company Viridor was constructed in conjunction with Stadler UK and has been in development since May 2014. The official opening ceremony this month was conducted by the Mayor of Medway, Councillor Barry Kemp.

Using advanced materials sorting technology, the facility is capable of processing 75,000 tonnes of mixed plastics each year into segregated plastic grades ready to be reprocessed into secondary raw materials for use in the manufacture of a variety of packaging and other products. The facility is able to recover mixed plastics as well as commingled glass and cans through its unique combination of sorting technology. It will be able to separate up to 10,000 tonnes of glass from combined input streams every year.

Viridor claim their strength lies in its infrastructure. Having a combination of separation facilities such as Rochester in Kent, as well as its processing site in Skelmersdale in Lancashire, will allow three quarters of the post-consumer plastics handled by Viridor to be fully recycled within the EU. By accepting a broader range of materials in, it can create more quality materials going out.

Ian McAulay, Viridor CEO says: "Transforming what others see as waste into quality resources that can be used within manufacturing is a key requirement to greater resource efficiency in the UK. That is good for UK business and for the environment."

For a small facility it has been observed that the Rochester PRF packs a punch. The building contains 121 conveyor belts to move the streams of waste throughout the building. Metals are removed using 7 overband magnets and 5 eddy current separators whilst 3 picking cabins ensure the manual separation of unwanted items such as paper and film.

viridor plasticrecycle2After ballistic separation, a series of 16 Titech optical sorting machines isolate the required mixture of plastic grades for the baling machines.

14 tonnes per hour of mixed plastic (made up of plastic bottles and pots, tubs and trays), mixed plastic bottles (made up of plastic bottles), plastics, cans and glass (mixture of the previous two with the addition of glass bottles and metal cans) are sent into the facility for processing. Travelling along approximately 400m of conveyor belt and ascending to a height of 12m and back down again, the end result is quality choice of PET clear bottles , PET coloured bottles, PET food trays, Polypropylene, HDPE clear, HDPE coloured, Polystyrene, ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, mixed paper, plastic bags and glass.

The facility will be able to generate up to 350 bales per day, each weighing approximately 700kg. It's estimated that one bale can contain up to 17,500 bottles. Licensed to operate 24 hours a day, the facility will accept in-feed from other waste management companies, materials recycling facilities and kerbside recycling collections.

A timelapse film of the construction of the Viridor Rochester Plastics Recycling Facility can be viewed below.

Stadler UK