Of course, there are some organisations that ‘like what they know’. This explains why they continue to use traditional shear equipment to cut metals down, because the perceived high-wear nature of the application would make alternative methodologies too expensive. But failure to look beyond big, cumbersome pieces of kit means that ever-smarter sorting, grading, separation and size-reduction technologies are being overlooked.
It is these technologies that will boost the efficiency, sophistication and potential revenue yield of metal recycling lines. How? By focusing on metal recyclate quality.
Too many valuable metals remain ‘locked’ in complex products such as uPVC windows and end-of-life vehicles, for example. They need to be liberated with more advanced kit so that their value can be realised. Elsewhere, in MRFs and alternative fuel production plants, Fe and non-Fe magnets extract metals from the lines for maximum waste hierarchy compliance. But up to 50% of the material can be contaminated with substances like plastic film, which renders the metal worthless. In fact, in recent times, operators haven’t just struggled to generate revenue from the material – they’ve had to pay a disposal fee!
However, these contaminated metals can be ‘cleaned’ using technology such as a high torque, low-wear four-shaft shredder, plus density separators and other sorting technologies such as NIR for further segregation. And the result? Maximum volumes of high quality ferrous and non-ferrous scrap for resale.
There are multiple examples of businesses hitting the headlines for all the right reasons, when it comes to separating ‘waste’ into its component parts, to maximise the amount of material going back into the industry for reprocessing.
In early 2017, for example, UNTHA announced the installation of the 22 tonne RS150 shredder at established waste management firm LKM Recycling (UK). The purpose of this procurement was to maximise materials recovery and revenue generation at this increasingly diverse recycling specialist.
LKM aimed to process an array of complex and often heavy-duty applications including aluminium, tyres and uPVC windows. They set out to achieve throughputs of up to 12 tonnes per hour, and with quick-change screens, the machine could achieve flexible homogenous particle sizing as small as 30mm, depending on customer requirements. At the time of commissioning, LKM expected annual recycling volumes to increase by up to 25%.
But there aren’t just experienced recyclers striving for more effective metal processing systems.
UK Plug Recycling – a young venture which aims to further prevent the amount of electrical waste being landfilled – has also demonstrated a forward-thinking approach to driving progress in this sector.
Working predominantly with other waste companies who find the complexity of WEEE too great a headache, the firm buys materials that may otherwise end up in the ground and be lost from the resource loop.
An RS40 shredder then tackles plugs, sockets, small pieces of WEEE and other secure product destruction, processing them down to a homogenous 15mm particle size, so that high-value commodities can be salvaged and revenues yielded.
Of course, investment is needed in new processes such as these, and it is understandable for recyclers to want to try avoid further expenditure. But with payback periods often possible in as little as 18 months, such investments can soon be justified. When the wider benefits of modern shredders are also factored in – including low noise, low wear, low dust, low maintenance and low power consumption – the advantages are magnified.Click here for related articles and newsSearch for Metal Shredding Equipment manufacturers in our Equipment Guide
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