LAST October a new waste collection service was introduced in Scarborough which changed the way households managed their rubbish.
A new state-of-the-art sorting plant based at the SRRC is central to the organisation of recyclable waste and the efficiency of the scheme.
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Reporter Kirsty Beever was invited to the new plant to find out how it worked and gain a further insight into Scarborough's greener future.
I WAS shown around the site by recycling supervisor Wayne Cox and the council's recycling development officer Harry Briggs. After being kitted out in the necessary hi-visibility clothing, I was taken to the first stage of the plant where the lorries unloaded the piles of bottles, cardboard, paper and cans from the blue bin collections.
The paper, card, plastic bottles and cans are loaded into a hopper and fed on to the first conveyor belt, where any bags are split by hand.
Large pieces of cardboard are removed for recycling and any large bits of contamination are also removed at this point. We then went further along the purpose-built walkways to the next stage.
All the time the huge machinery continued to clunk and clank so it was difficult to hear what each of us was saying and had to shout above the noise.
The recyclables enter a huge rotating drum, called a trommel, which allows plastic bottles and cans to fall through for further segregation. Small particles (fines) are removed from the process at this point, while paper and card travel along the trommel for further hand sorting.
We walk further along the metal platforms to the third stage. Here I am shown a piece of engineering which reminds me very much of the 2p pushers on the Foreshore – but on a much larger scale. Its objective is to sort paper and card from the remaining plastic bottles and cans which had not made it through the first segregation process in Stage 2. The recyclables hit a ballistic separator, which allows paper and card to climb the process. This material is then deposited on to a conveyor for hand segregation. The remaining plastic bottles and cans are unable to climb the ballistic separator and fall through at this point on to a separate picking line for further hand sorting.
We then walk into an enclosed section of the plant. Here four to five people stand along two conveyor belts – one which has card and paper on it, the other tins and plastic on it.
Their job is to manually take out any material which may not be suitable for recycling. It is essential to ensure that the product is free of contamination, so any remaining contaminants, such as broken glass, needles, garden waste etc, are removed by hand.
We walk out of the covered section and here there are now two lines of recyclable material – cans and plastics; and paper and card.
The cans and plastics are screened on their picking line, using overband magnets and an eddy current. Those materials which are steel are sorted using a magnet. The materials that are left are plastic and aluminium. The materials which are aluminium are sorted by using an eddy current. It is interesting to watch the eddy current at work – those tins which are aluminium are made to "jump" by the current into a different section and the plastic bottles are left on the same conveyor and drop down into the sorting depot below. So, by this stage the line has produced three different products: steel and aluminium cans and mixed plastic bottles for recycling.
Near to this is the paper and card, which has been removed of any contamination by hand. The recyclable material that is left is called softmix.
We walk down from the main sorting process, and here the forklift truck stacks all the sorted materials ready for baling which are then sold on to be recycled.
From Scarborough the recyclable material goes to different parts of the UK and the world.
Aluminium cans go to Warrington where they are normally used to make more cans and other aluminium products.
Steel cans go to Redcar.
Some plastic bottles stay in the UK – others are shredded and palletised and are exported to China Cardboard is also exported to China while papermix is exported to Europe – usually France, Holland or China.
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