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Plant focuses on quality and advanced segregation

Quality has been put at the heart of Neath-based Derwen Group’s resource recovery facility that started operations earlier this year.

The plant, conveniently based just off the M4 between Cardiff and Swansea, was designed with the reprocessor in mind. Its aim is to increase the quality of recyclates it produces and offer a 100% landfill diversion solution for its customers, while also supporting the local area by employing more people and passing its materials on to reprocessors in the south Wales area in a bid to help achieve a circular economy.

The business has forecast that the new facility will deliver more than £10m additional revenue over five years, divert around 100,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and save over 5,000 tonnes of CO2.

Following the success of Derwen’s inert waste recycling plant set up in 2007, the company identified further opportunities because there was a lack of recycling infrastructure in the area.

It opened a waste transfer station in January 2011, utilising manual sorting processes, and then embarked on a study for a local authority which was to influence ›› p45 its future. The study took a sample of 20 loads of mixed waste material that was currently going to landfill, and found that 87% of it was suitable for recycling.

So Derwen decided to make a major investment in a comprehensive resource and recycling facility, to create a plant that would help the company be more efficient in separating its waste, as well as increasing the quality of recyclate produced.

It contacted WRAP Cymru and successfully applied for a grant within its Accelerating Reprocessing Infrastructure Development fund, receiving £500,000. As the new resource recovery facility was such a large investment, Derwen had to broaden its sources of waste, turning to commercial and industrial material as well construction. To do this it has engaged with local waste management and collection companies to encourage them to bring their waste to the site, and has ensured it is competitively priced against landfill.

Derwen recognises itself as being a best practice waste management organisation. It has achieved ISO 9001, 14001 and OHSAS 18001, and is also part of the Green Compass scheme in Wales, which provides independent verification of recycling performance. It now offers a zero waste to landfill solution, with any residual waste that cannot be recycled being converted into refuse-derived fuel (RDF). Further down the line, it envisages having its own energy facility in which to use this RDF.

Derwen business development manager Debbie Keogh explains that, while the plant is sophisticated, the company is “looking continually to keep innovating, keep ahead of the game and assess all the technologies that are ahead of us”.

Phase one of the resource recovery plant has been operational since earlier this year, and is a combination of automated and manual processing that manages a range of waste streams: metal, plastic, wood, aggregate, cardboard and paper.

A second phase will be commissioned early next year. This will include more advanced automated plant that will further segregate materials, such as plastics, into individual plastic types.

Such measures will provide it with a higher quality materials output which is of more value to both Derwen and the reprocessers it sells to – measures that have been put at the centre of its business model.

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