Our network of industry-leading Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) provide an efficient and effective way of separating and recovering recyclable materials.
Our MRFs segregate dry mixed recycling waste materials from both local authority kerbside collections and those from our commercial customers.
Once the materials have been separated in our MRFs, it is then baled and sent onto specialist reprocessors and manufacturers, where they are used to create new products.
The use of MRFs to sort co-mingled materials also allows us to remove any non-recyclable residual waste, which can then be sent onto Energy from Waste facilities where it is used a fuel source to generate electricity.
The process of separating mixed materials through a MRF also dramatically improves the quality of the recyclables produced. This is of great importance for reprocessors and manufacturers, as they rely on quality of the materials being of a high standard, as it means that they do not need to use raw materials to create their products.
Our MRFs have an annual capacity in excess of 400,000 tonnes, and through the use of state-of-the-art sorting technology we typically recover over 90% of the materials passing through them for subsequent recycling.
What materials do our Materials Recovery Facilities separate and recover for recycling?
We strongly believe that the best way to encourage effective recycling is to make the process as simple as possible. We do this by operating a mixed recycling service, whereby our customers can deposit all their waste recyclable materials into one bin, ready for us to take away and manage the recycling process.
Disposing of all recyclable items in one container is known as co-mingling, and it’s very simple.
The recycled waste materials we collect and recover through our MRFs includes:
- Paper (including newspapers, magazines, catalogues and envelopes)
- Card (including packaging)
- Steel and aluminium drinks cans
- HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastics
- PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastics
- Glass (all colours accepted)
This allows us to remove any unwanted materials that cannot be recycled, as well as any items that may disrupt or harm the process or our sorting equipment.
Sorting and screening
Hand sorting and screening of paper, card, cardboard removes these materials from the process.
Ferrous metals sorting
The remaining stream of materials passes through a series of overband magnets where ferrous metals, such as steel cans are recovered.
We then use eddy current separators to recover non-ferrous metals, such as aluminium cans.
A series of infra-red spectroscopy automated sorters separate out the different type of plastic materials, such as plastic bottles and packaging.
Glass is also screened from the stream of waste materials and is sent through an air-classifier to remove any paper. The glass is then collected and sent on to be recycled.
The various segregated materials are high-density baled and temporarily stored until a sufficient quantity has been collected. They can then be transported onto specialist reprocessors where they can be recycled into new products.
All of our MRFs operate to the same objective, which is to produce the cleanest, sorted and segregated recycled materials as efficiently as possible. The quality standards of our recover material are in excess of the standards required by the network of reprocessors and manufacturers to whom we send our recovered materials to.
We have invested heavily in our network of MRFs to ensure that they provide industry-leading sorting technology and the most efficient and effective processes to separate and recover recyclable materials, whilst removing any residual non-recyclable waste. This enables us to produce a greater quality recyclable material product.
For example, at our largest MRF which is near Slough, we employ cutting edge Redwave near infra-red spectroscopy automatic sorting technology, which is capable of being programmed to detect and recover a wide range of differing recyclable materials types. It achieves this by determining the type of material based upon the wavelength of reflected light it reads as the materials pass through the Redwave. It then use ballistic air currents to remove the various materials and separate them.
Our Colnbrook MRF uses this technology to separate and recover materials such as paper, card, clean clear plastic film, and mixed plastics (such as PET and HDPE).
We operate a network of six Materials Recovery Facilities across the south of England, at the following locations:
- Banbury, Oxfordshire
- Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
- Leatherhead, Surrey
- Reading, Berkshire
- Slough, Berkshire
- Wallingford, Oxfordshire
These MRFs complement our other industry-leading facilities such as our Waste Transfer Stations, Energy from Waste and Anaerobic Digestion facilities. This enables us to provide our customers with the right treatment processes for the variety of wastes they produce.
What other Materials Recovery Facilities do we operate?
We also operate a MRF near Wallingford in Oxfordshire for the specialist separation and recovery of building and construction wastes. This facility recovers over 75% of the soils, plastics, wood, timber, brick, concrete and metals it processes.
Once your mixed recycling materials are collected from households or our customers’ businesses, they are transported to one of our MRFs, where the materials are tipped. Once tipped the waste is loaded into a hopper and onto a conveyor. This feeds the materials through the MRF, where they are sorted both by a combination of hand and mechanical processes.