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Flexibility for rigid plastics

Hard plastic waste was traditionally difficult to process because of its bulk and the complexity of mixed polymers, so it was often sent straight to landfill.

But with ever more stringent landfill directives, waste recyclers such as W&S Recycling Services have had to find alternative solutions that live up to their promises.

W&S, based in Poole, Dorset, has been steadily expanding its waste management services to customers in the public and private sectors. It is committed to helping resolve any waste issues and to minimise the impact of pollution on the environment.

The company was looking for opportunities to attract more business and Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) was looking at ways to divert more materials from landfill. Exploring the possibility of recycling rigid plastics including PP, HDPE, UPVC and PVC seemed an obvious next step.

After investigating the options available, W&S chose a twinram baler from Middleton Engineering. It took delivery of the ME2R100 in October 2014 and, in conjunction with DWP, it was installed at the Hurn depot in Christchurch.

The baler has proved to be a great success. It takes up a comparatively small amount of space and has allowed the business to improve its handling of hard plastics. This type of plastic takes up a great deal of space to store and sort before baling. It comes in a huge variety of shapes and grades of plastic, from crates to garden furniture – you would be amazed at what turns up.

Middleton dealt with all aspects of the commissioning and installation. This included a degree of customisation along with essential training on how to use the baler. Now staff can identify the various hard plastic types accurately, which are then graded and baled for reprocessing.

W&S chose to strap the bales with plastic to have more flexibility. The baler can be adapted to use metal straps, but plastic ones are much cheaper. Plastic straps have the additional benefit of enabling reprocessing companies to reprocess whole bales, straps and all.

It is important that the number of straps can be increased if required, because different plastics expand at different rates when expressed from the machine and want to revert to their original form. With a press force of 100 tonnes, the twin-ram baler can crush and compact hard plastics into 500kg bales, ensuring a consistent size for easier handling. By guaranteeing the content and mass of the bales, the output is far more attractive to reprocessing firms in the UK and for export markets. A final stage is for the business to report back to customers with their waste processing statistics and any other relevant information as proof of their legal compliance.

Previously, when hard plastic materials were transported loose, W&S would be lucky to get three tonnes per lorry load. Middleton’s baler allows the company to achieve 19-20 tonnes per load.

The hard plastic processing service was rolled out initially to three household waste recovery centres in Dorset. This has now increased to seven, compacting about 20 tonnes a week, and there are opportunities to extend this.

The baler has been a good investment for W&S. The company plans to stay ahead of the game by making it easier for customers to recycle more of their waste while improving its own profitability and performance.      

Andy Tyers is operations manager at W&S Recycling Services

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