Winner: Suez – Kenney Blocks
Suez’s Kenney Blocks are the brainchild of staff member Ian Kenney. He realised that sand and aggregate obtained from recycled street sweepings could be manufactured into concrete blocks.
In 2012 Suez was the first company in the country to start recycling street sweepings at a purpose-built facility in Wolverhampton. A second plant in Coventry opened in March 2014 and, together, the two facilities now process around 70,000 tonnes a year of street sweepings.
The material is thoroughly cleaned to remove pollution from vehicle exhausts before it is separated into its component parts: sand, aggregate and organics.
The challenge was to find suitable outlets for these materials which met the approval of the Environment Agency. Suez obtained a permit to use the organics – mainly leaves and twigs – and the sludge left after washing for landfill restoration. This is now being used at Packington, once the busiest landfill in Europe, which closed in February 2015.
Initially the sand and aggregate was used for cable bedding. But having worked in the construction industry, Kenney realised it was ideal for making concrete blocks which could be used to create recycling bays at Suez’s MRFs and transfer stations.
We highly commend the passion and drive of the people behind this project. They have developed a commercial product that has a wide range of uses and can be continually recycled in a closed loop fashion from a very challenging waste stream
Following extensive trials, around 100 blocks a week are being produced. In 2015 2,200 tonnes of aggregate and 700 tonnes of sand was used to make around 1,600 blocks. Traffic and pedestrian barriers are also being manufactured.
Each block weighs 2.2 tonnes so it is robust and able to withstand heavy use, making it ideal for use in the waste industry. The blocks are made to the same standard, in terms of quality and strength, as commercially-made products. An electronically controlled cement batching plant provides accurate measurements and regular independent testing of the concrete is done to ensure quality is maintained.
Suez is following its circular economy principals: component parts of sweepings are being segregated to be put to good use, reducing the need for virgin material.
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