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BMRA says shredders are crucial to achieving zero waste

Shredders are crucial to help the metal recycling industry achieve zero waste with minimum impact on the local environment, according to a report.

The study from the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) analysed the process of metal fragmentising in the UK, which provides secondary raw materials from scrap metal to make new metal products.

The study looked at factors including energy consumption, emissions, recovery of other materials and potential future developments in the sector. It concluded that shredders save energy and resources compared to manufacturing metals from raw materials, have low emissions and help separate other materials, such as plastic, for recycling.

The findings will be used to help develop Best Available Techniques (BAT) for the industry to inform the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which will include shredders for the first time from 2015.

scrap metal

The research, BREF Style Report: Metal Fragmentising Operations: Industrial Emissions Directive, estimates that shredders process between three and four million tonnes - up to 30% - of the 13 million tonnes of scrap ferrous and non-ferrous metal recycled every year. The research was drawn from data collected from just over half of the UK’s 45 shredder facilities.

BMRA director general Ian Hetherington told MRW: “Shredders are an essential part of the what is available to the scrap metal recycling operations and the report is an attempt to put some independent data on the ground to demonstrate that not only are these installations essential to the metal recycling mix, but they are also relatively low intensity in their environmental impact. 

“The shredder is at the heart of the metal recycling process and has enabled, along with the other processes linked to it, some remarkably high returns in terms of recycling rates. The report sets out to demonstrate that not only are we achieving those results but that we are doing it with a minimal impact on the environment.”

The study says that metal fragmentisers, better known as shredders, are the most efficient equipment for extracting both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The materials processed are not hazardous and emissions such as dust and noise can be easily controlled in compliance with the IED.

The study, done by environmental research firm Mayer Environmental said that the fragmentising sector is also developing increasingly sophisticated separation and recovery techniques, including to recover plastics which can be sorted by polymer for reuse. New techniques will increase the sector’s ability to maximise recovery and recycling of metallic waste, and help producers meet WEEE and ELV obligations, reduce landfill and move towards zero waste, it said.

The sector is also developing capacity to deliver energy recovery from non-recyclable materials.

The report will be used to inform the BAT input for the compilation of the IED. Recommendations include:

  • Implementing certified Environmental Management and Quality Management systems
  • Waste acceptance procedures and radiation screening
  • Continual feed inspection
  • Covering conveyor belts and using water mist and spray dust suppression
  • Undercover storage of process outputs and residues
  • Routine monitoring of consumption and emissions

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