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Sum of its parts

Encouraging behaviour change among the public is one of the greatest challenges faced by local authorities. Finnish body manufacturer Närpes Trä & Metall (NTM) believes it has the solution with its new recycling vehicle and bin system called the Quatro.

Launched in the UK in June 2010, the Quatro provides households with a pair of bins, each separated into four quadrants (two fixed compartments and two removable inserts) to enable the collection of eight material streams simultaneously: household waste, bagged food waste, coloured glass, plastics, paper, clear glass, packaging and metals.

A special vehicle body, which is manufactured by NTM, then operates an alternate weekly collection system by collecting one bin each week. Material is separated in the vehicle into four compartments.

It is a system that NTM GB press officer Louise Murphy admits is more expensive than commingled collection systems, but ensures greater material purity. “Yes, commingled systems are easier for people,” she says, “but there have got to be costs somewhere because someone has got to sort out the recycling. With the Quatro system, it’s already done.”

A 200-bin trial would cost around £300,000 in the UK compared with a £130,000 trial for a single kerbside collection system. But Murphy explains that, in the long term, money is saved because of the multiple compartments of the Quatro vehicles, which means that fewer vehicles are required.

She says: “When I was speaking to people in Sweden [where the system was developed], they were so passionate about it. Their trials proved that people did not mind paying more because, in the long run, it did save them time and money and it was better for the planet.”

NTM believes the system can provide up to 98% materials purity, which means that local authorities can derive more value when material is sold on for reprocessing, the need for MRFs is entirely eliminated and manual handling by waste collection crews is kept to a minimum.

A standard Quatro body can collect from 300 households and has a storage capacity of up to 10 tonnes. The body’s four compartments measure 9.4, 4.8, 4.4 and 2.1cu m, respectively, but this varies according to the length of the vehicle body.

In the UK, the Quatro system’s bins are manufactured by Otto, and come in 240- or 370-litre capacities. The 240-litre bin contains two 90-litre fixed compartments and two removable 30-litre inserts, while the 370-litre bins comprise two 150-litre compartments and two 30-litre inserts, or 135- and 150-litre compartments and 30 and 45-litre inserts.

The Quatro has already received interest from Telford and Wrekin Council, which is trialling the system. Murphy says: “We’re targeting as many councils as we can. But [the system will be] more receptive to people who are already aware of how to separate waste. Telford and Wrekin residents are already open to that idea.”

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