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This is Devon -- arguably the most beautiful county in England. Yet every year the county
sends 600,000 tonnes of waste to landfill. That's equivalent to eight and a half QE11s
or seven thousand, six hundred and eighty two 747s. For millions of years, nature managed
waste here and she recycled everything. Now Devon Contract Waste is aiming to do the same
by launching their Zero to Landfill initiative! However well managed, landfill is a huge and
costly problem. Not only is it unsightly, it produces methane, an atmospheric pollutant
far more damaging than CO2; and toxic leachate, a liquid run-off that has to be extensively
treated to make it safe. Landfill management costs Devon in the region of twenty million
pounds a year and that, of course, is paid for by those who live and work here.
As well as the landfill itself, the cost of picking up and transporting waste is high,
both in monetary and environmental terms. Until now, it has been necessary to separate
all waste types before collection and transport it in different vehicles. Uniquely in Devon,
DCW can now pick up the majority of your waste in one go, saving you time and money and reducing
the carbon footprint of your collection. This is possible because DCW have invested
over four million pounds in a new state-of-the-art materials recycling facility. Housed here
at Envirohub, their new site at Marsh Barton, Exeter, this plant is the only one of its
kind in the South West and one of only a handful in the entire UK. The plant is capable of
processing 300 tonnes per day and will play a pivotal role in the Zero to Landfill programme.
So how does it work?
Unsorted mixed waste is transported to Envirohub from around the county and is emptied out
at the plant. From the ground, it is lifted by a mechanical grabber and placed into the
hopper where it is shredded down to a maximum size of 300 millimetres. The shredder is fitted
with an adjustable setting to ensure an even feed and spread of materials across the belts
on the whole plant. This is necessary for the advanced optical technology used in the
plant to view and sort the waste efficiently. From the shredder the waste is fed via a long
incline belt to the trommel screen. This big drum tumbles the waste to separate all fine
material such as soil and dust, and organics such as food waste, which would otherwise
contaminate the recycled products. This filters out of the base of the trommel and will be
turned into a refuse-derived fuel product, known as RDF.
Everything else continues on to the ballistic separator. The rotating paddles on this belt
walk everything upwards but only the two dimensional material makes it over onto the next sorting
line. The three dimensional items can't make it to the top and fall back onto the 3D line
below. From the top of the separator, the 2D material
now falls onto the accelerator belt passing under the first optical sorter. The optics
are positioned over the belt and recognise the different classes of material. Here, this
optic is set to separate soft plastic film. When it sees an item of soft plastic approaching,
it triggers a jet of air which hits the item as it crosses the end of the belt, blowing
it on to the conveyor that sits behind the optic hood. From there, it passes to a hand-picking
belt where any contamination is removed. However, the process is so effective that it isn't
usually necessary for this to be manned. The material that is still on the belt after
the first optic drops down onto the second accelerator belt beneath. It then passes the
second optic, which is set to select all paper and card products, which fall into the bay
behind the optic hood and down onto the hand picking belt where any contamination is removed.
Usually there are two people working on this belt to ensure the highest possible quality.
So back to the 3D material. Firstly, this is conveyed past a powerful magnet which removes
all ferrous metal . What remains is then passed through the eddy current machine which removes
all non-ferrous metals such as aluminium. All metals are collected in the skips below.
The non-metallic material left on the belt then does two passes through the third optic.
The first pass recovers plastic on one side and the second pass recovers all paper and
card on the other. Anything left will also go into RDF.
All the sorted non-metallic materials end up in these bays below the plant. Periodically
the contents will be baled and wrapped ready to be transported.
So where does it all go? The metals will be sent for recycling back into raw material
locally. Recovered paper is classed as 'hard mix' and will be recycled into tissue such
as toilet roll and hand towels. Plastics are recycled in the UK into new products; some
obvious ones such as carrier bags and bin liners, but also fleeces, umbrellas, children's
toys and car bumpers. Card is generally shipped to China for recycling. As this is backhauled
on ships that have delivered consignments from China into the UK, the carbon footprint
is minimised. All pretty impressive!
DCW have been in the waste management business for over twenty years and in that time they
have seen awareness of the environmental problems of waste increase. While most businesses recognise
the need for recycling, DCW know you don't want to have to spend too much time organising
it and this new technology will greatly simplify the process. Whether clear sacks, wheelie
bins or the new front end loaders, DCW can handle them all swiftly and efficiently and
their customers can be confident that they are doing the best for the environment, both
locally and globally, with minimum fuss. The company's commitment to reducing landfill
is clearly demonstrated by the huge investment being made in this new plant and by utilizing
this service you will be helping to keep Devon green and pleasant for generations to come.
For more information on how DCW can help you solve your waste management issues and to
join the Zero to Landfill campaign, contact them on 01392 361300 or go to www.dcw.co.uk