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Wet MRF puts paper mill at zero waste

UPM Shotton has declared itself “as close as currently possible” to zero waste after final tweaks were made to a facility designed to recover contaminants.

The north Wales-based mill, which is the biggest newsprint producer in the UK, has been working with waste management firm PHS Wastetech and specialist engineering company Rotajet for 18 months to develop the bespoke wet MRF facility.

After final adjustments over the past few weeks, the wet MRF has been set up to process 20,000 tonnes of final reject waste from the paper-making process.

Shotton head of energy and utilities Andrew Bronnert told MRW: “After re-pulping waste paper we were left with wet plastic bags, staples, CDs and other rubbish that is notoriously difficult to separate.

“After many failed attempt we contacted PHS, who had been working with a technology provider Rotajet, to take advantage of the wet nature of the material and use flotation to separate materials with different densities.

The three companies worked together to build the plant close to its current paper making operation.

“Using expertise from all three companies, the process was tuned to reclaim metals and produce different plastic pellets to be turned into plastic products. Fibre is recovered from the process to be turned into green energy back at the paper mill site.”

The paper fibre goes back to Shotton to feed the mill’s CHP biomass power station; metals – including several tonnes of staples a week - are sold as scrap; and plastics are sold to reprocessors for use in the manufacture of garden furniture and railway sleepers.

UPM first announced the PHS tie-up in September 2010, and the facility has been running for several months.

The mill, which already reprocesses one million tonnes of recovered material a year, is now said to be as close as currently possible to zero-waste to landfill.

Pat Wadey from PHS’s head of special contracts said the unique facility could be replicated and adapted for other paper mills in the future.

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