A new report featured in HUB-4 announces that Apeal have confirmed a recycling record for steel packaging. This is fantastic news, but the article only discusses the results and does not mention how it has been achieved.
The recovery of steel packaging from the waste stream is not a new development. When I started in the recycling industry in 1989, I went to many waste handling plants where steel was being successfully recovered and, in fact, worked with British Steel on several projects to increase recoveries and improve recovered material purity levels.
The new figures are reflective of the change in the way waste is handled with many pre-sorted refuse handling stations in operation. This means that an increased amount of waste now gets the opportunity of being segregated and separated.
Despite the increase in recycling rates, the technology to recover steel packaging has changed very little over the past 25 years. Commonly, Magnetic Separators are suspended over a conveyor and attract the steel packaging up onto the face of the magnet, where a moving belt that transfers to attracted material away from the conveyed material into a collection area. These Suspended Magnets can either by constructed from Permanent Magnets or Electro Magnets, although it is more common to see Permanent Suspended Cross Belt Magnets installed at MRFs.
However, the changes that have occurred focus onincreasing recovery rates and improving purity, two issues that British Steel focused on 25 years ago. One change that has been made to Permanent Suspended Cross Belt Magnets is the development of the Twin Pole Magnet, which produces a stronger field and flips captured material, releasing non-metallic material such as paper and plastic [Vulcanis Maximises Steel Can Recovery]. Being a small development, many companies are still unaware of this technology.
The record recycling rate for steel packaging is fantastic news, but I do wonder what steps are needed to continue to drive towards 100% recycling and whether further technological development is the key.