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Building the future

When Raymond Brown Minerals & Recycling (RBMR) opened its new A303 recycling facility in July, it represented something of a new direction for the company, as well as providing links between operations in Southampton and Berkshire.

The completion of the facility at Barton Stacey, Hampshire, earlier this year has enabled the company to expand into the new area of skip-derived construction and demolition (C&D) waste. Environmental and development director Steve Cole says: “The aim is to be diverse and accept as many different waste streams as possible, increase the amount of recycling we’re doing and help to develop the location between Berkshire and Hampshire.”

The facility was bought from a land-owner in 2008, who had a skip business and a limited area for processing C&D waste. RBMR, which took an active role in Hampshire County Council’s ‘More from Less’ strategy, purchased both the land and the hire business after identifying the site as an ideal location for an MRF. With a total investment approaching £4m, the company was successful with a grant application to WRAP and Defra, which provided funding towards the plant and building costs.

The acquisition has also allowed RBMR to improve the company’s coverage in the south. The A303 facility integrates with RBMR’s two other Hampshire-based waste treatment facilities, one of which is at Rookery Farm, Fareham, which produces 55,000 tonnes a year of recycled washed aggregates as well crushing inert C&D waste.

The company also owns the Blue Haze facility near Ringwood, which treats 100,000 tonnes a year of bottom ash, sourced from Hampshire council’s residual waste via a Veolia energy-from-waste (EfW) plant. Blue Haze ages raw ash to remove ferrous and non-ferrous metals, achieving a recovery rate of 93%. The incinerator bottom ash aggregate generated by the plant is frequently used as a sub-base in road construction.

“If you have good quality products to sell, then there will always be a market”

As well as owning an extensive tipper fleet, RBMR has six skip and four grab lorries which provide materials for the A303 facility. The company serves 36 civic amenity sites in Hampshire for the council, much of which comes into A303 for recycling. The site is also fed by door trade from local building firms, members of the public and small builders, who provide a secondary market for the recycled aggregates, purchasing scalpings and soils in low increments.

The difficulties posed by processing such mixed waste streams is one that has challenged the construction and materials handling processes of the new facility, says Cole. “The A303 site has been designed based on the nature of the material we process. We receive such a mixed bag that it’s difficult to develop a plant capable of handling the range of materials and dealing with them reliably.”

Construction began in late 2009, with Blue Group selected to help design the plant layout as well as advising on the appropriate processing plant and recycling technology. The plant was designed and built by subcontractor Kiverco, and RBMR sister company Raymond Brown Construction designed and developed the MRF’s shell and foundations.

The facility itself has also been designed with sustainability in mind. The A303 MRF features low- energy lighting, which adapts automatically depending on background daylight, and rainwater recovery, which is collected in a 50,000-gallon water supply and used for fire and dust suppression systems, as well as removable concrete walls to allow the facility to expand when necessary.

The A303 MRF currently accepts around 30 skips of mixed construction waste each day, bringing with it mixed aggregates, as well as the new challenge posed by commercial waste streams such as cardboard, plastics and wood. These ‘light’ commercial materials are separated from the ‘heavy’ stream of hardcore, aggregates and inert materials, and passed through a trommel to remove fine materials for disposal. The light stream is then sorted on a 10-bay picking station, which removes light and heavy plastic, wood, non-ferrous metals, card and paper.

An overband magnet removes ferrous metals from the waste stream, and the picked commercial materials are then baled and sold on as commodities. The remaining 25 to 30% of residual waste is landfilled.

Site manager Mark Evans says: “We’re starting to improve our recovery quality so we can target the end users to take the recovered commodities. The baler enables us to get better prices for our materials. Most of the waste wood goes to biomass plants and the fines to composting sites. The landfill tax is going up, so we’ve got to aim to optimise recovery of these materials and avoid it going into landfill.”

The heavy inert material arrives at the A303 site’s weighbridge and is visually inspected to ensure it meets European waste codes and carries the appropriate waste transfer note. Inert waste is screened to separate soils and other fine materials, which are then blended with imported composts and aggregates to improve their quality. Any oversized aggregates are crushed to specification to comply with WRAP’s aggregates quality protocols, ready for resupply to the construction market, while wood is shredded to a product suitable for use as a biofuel in a BioGen power plant. Aggregate materials are reprocessed into material types ranging from capping materials to soils.

Previously, the A303 site had a recycling rate of around 74%, with 80,000 tonnes of C&D waste recycled since opening. RBMR predicts that the recycling recovery rate will now significantly improve with new plant.

Cole says: “We’re aiming for 100% by expanding our skip hire radius where it’s profitable and improving the quality of our materials. If you have good quality products to sell, then there will always be a market.”

RBMR also intends to expand the number of skips to between 50 and 60 a day, and says it would even consider investment in EfW technology and municipal waste streams.

Director Mark Isaac says: “In the past couple of years, we’ve invested both in technology and in plants, with our facilities at Rookery Lane and Blue Haze. This next step into a different sector is very exciting and opens up new business opportunities. The investment we’ve made in this facility is a big statement - it’s a big project, and with the help of the WRAP grant, we now have the opportunity to try these things.”

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