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New tech, new ambitions for Viridor

UK recycler Viridor has upgraded its recycling plant in Ipswich to the tune of EUR 17 million, increasing the annual total processing capacity from 65 000 tonnes to 75 000 tonnes.

The site, which can now handle 17 tonnes per hour and is said to be performing at ‘optimum processing levels’, was enhanced in partnership with Tomra Sorting Recycling and Stadler. Their latest equipment has improved the output quality of the commingled dry mixed recyclables (not including glass) collected throughout the county of Suffolk.

Materials are initially handled using new mechanical separation equipment, including a dosing drum, a Stadler PPK ballistic separator, a screening drum, Stadler STT 2000 ballistic separators, overband magnets and eddy current separators. Subsequently, the material (apart from fibre) goes through an air separation process before arriving at the newly installed Tomra Autosort optical sensor-based sorting units.

Prior to the upgrade, three Tomra optical sorters were in place at the recycling plant. These have been replaced by 11 new Autosort units. As one of the existing units was only four years old, Tomra uploaded its newest software.

Viridor reports a number of operational benefits:

  • Increased throughput – the plant can cope with an additional 10 000 tonnes of infeed material per annum
  • Market-leading purity of target fractions, eg 98.5% for newspapers and pamphlets and over 95% for PET, HDPE and mixed plastics 
  • Cost efficiencies resulting from the plant running at full capacity
  • Reduced risk of plant downtime
  • Future-proof solutions – the equipment is designed with ever-changing market needs in mind and can be reprogrammed to cope with changes in the infeed material stream
  • Materials previously sent to Rochester can now be reprocessed on-site, cutting costs and the carbon footprint

‘Prior to the project, this Viridor site could only sort mixed plastics for further processing at the Rochester PRF and it was extremely manual sorting focused, with hand sorting used for all cardboard and refined paper grades,’ says Steven Walsh, sales engineer at Tomra Sorting Recycling. ‘Now, though, it is among the most highly automated plants in the UK.’

Benjamin Eule, director at Stadler UK, adds: ‘Our role was to decommission the existing plant and supply and install a full turnkey solution for the newly upgraded plant. It was one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve ever worked on.’ It only took around three months from the initial discussion to signing contracts and then two weeks to decommission the plant. ‘The installation – including demolition of the old equipment – took 80 days in total,’ Eule reports.

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