Contamination Hinders Plastic Recycling

Metal Contamination is Another Problem Facing Plastic Recycling Companies

The environmental impact of poorly managing plastic waste has been in the headlines since the BBC’s Blue Planet II series was aired at the end of 2017.  In January, Theresa May made a pledge to eliminate the UK’s plastic waste by 2042, although the detail of the plan has yet to be unveiled.  Less than a week later and the EU ‘declared war on plastic waste’, announcing the intention to ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.

plastic-trash-in-oceans-and-waterways

Presently, there is an unprecedented negative feeling towards plastics.  However, plastic is and will continue to be one of the most versatile and useful materials available.  This versatility is down to the wide range of plastic types, as can be seen in any household.  Plastic is present in food packaging, mobile phone casings, tables, chairs, DVDs, televisions, and many other everyday items that would not exist unless made of plastic.

Certainly, product designers need to give recyclability a higher priority and this change in attitude is required for all materials and not just for plastics.  At present, plastic is the environmental villain.

Effectively managing plastic waste is not a new problem for the UK.  With the introduction of Material Reclamation Facilities (MRFs) in the 1990s, there was an abundance of segregated materials, including plastics, for which there was no end market.  These were stored or exported overseas, and there were reports of warehouses in Germany stocked full of unrecyclable waste materials.

This resulted in changes in the EU definition of ‘waste’ that prevented the easy movement of secondary materials within Europe, but this did not address the main problem.  The market for materials such as secondary plastics did not exist.  Advances have been made and there are products being made out of recycled waste plastics (e.g. furniture) and even plastic roads.

Technology has advanced, but the main problems remain.  Complex recycling plants are now able to separate different types of plastic by colour and type, but the process is not perfect.  To further complicate the problem, other non-related materials, such as metal and even building materials (e.g. concrete and bricks), contaminate the vast majority of waste plastic packaging.

Contaminated Pre-Sorted Waste

Most plastic packaging enters the recycling process as pre-sorted household waste.  The specification of what materials are mixed in a single recycling bag depends on the recycling strategy of the local council and varies considerably across the UK and Europe.

Recycled UK Bunting Magnetic Separators-3On arrival at a MRF, the collected materials are then separated into metal, plastic, cardboard, and any other materials defined within the local strategy.  Separation of these materials is achieved using either technology or, more commonly, a combination of separation equipment and human pickers.  This is a dirty, difficult, and unpopular environment in which to work.

The ability to successfully separate the materials is compromised by the presence of other waste.  These materials have been incorrectly added to recycling bags at the household or during collection and include used-nappies, food waste, paint tins, and other problematic materials.

At the MRF, metal packaging (e.g. steel and aluminium beverage and food cans) is commonly recovered using Overband Magnets positioned over the main feed conveyor prior to the picking line.  Other materials are manually handpicked and stored separately.  Up until recently, the mix of plastic packaging could then be sent to a specialist UK plastic recycling plant or overseas to countries such as China.

Contaminated Plastic Waste

Since 2012, British companies have shipped more than 2.7m tonnes of plastic scrap to mainland China and Hong Kong.  However, this only accounts for two-thirds of all the plastic waste exported from the UK.

Plastic waste sent to China is, where possible, commonly hand-sorted into individual plastic types (i.e. removing plastic tops by hand), with all other added contamination removed manually.  This involves a huge, low-paid workforce.  Similar manually based recycling operations in Europe would be prohibitively costly with unacceptable working conditions.

In December 2017, China announced that in early 2018 it will stop importing “foreign garbage” stating that such waste materials was commonly contaminated with “large amounts of dirty waste or even hazardous wastes”.

Specialist plastic packaging recycling plants in the UK have been under intense financial pressure for many years.  There have been calls for better legislation and Government support, but too many plastic recycling plants open and are then forced to close due to being financial unviable.

A typical plastic recycling operation needs a complex system of separation equipment.  The plant also needs to be able to adapt to huge variations in the nature of the delivered waste plastic.  There are also strict environmental regulations on storing and handling waste plastic.  Such plants are expensive to install and operate.

Hanbury Plastics Bunting Overband Magnet-1

Early in the process, ferrous and non-ferrous metal contamination is removed from the waste plastic using Magnetic Separators and Eddy Current Separators.  Initially, after the plastic is released from the compacted bale, the waste is fed into a primary shredder.  To protect the shredder from damage, an Overband Magnet is suspended across the feed conveyor and removes large ferrous metal.

At this stage, the type of ferrous metal contamination found in the plastic is diverse and often surprising.  It can include metal packaging miss-sorted at the MRF, heavy lumps of iron that increase the weight of the plastic bale, and metal picked up during transportation.  There have even been reports of car engine blocks.  Reasonably sized items of cast iron entering the shredder will cause significant and costly damage and result in the plant being closed until a repair is possible.

After the primary shredder, the waste plastic has been reduced in size and many contaminants liberated.  This shredded waste plastic is fed onto another Magnetic Separator, commonly a Drum Magnet or Pulley Magnet, to remove liberated smaller ferrous metals.

Metal Found in Plastic Recycling Bunting Magnetics-3The type of ferrous metal separated at this stage includes steel spanners, nuts, bolts, screws, fine metal wires, springs, iron shards, fine ferrous dust, and chunks of stainless steel.  Most of the ferrous metal was not part of the original plastic packaging and has been introduced between disposal and processing.

The cleansed plastic waste then passes over an Eddy Current Separator to remove non-ferrous metals.  Commonly separated metals include aluminium beverage cans, foils, tubes, and even window frames.

After the metal contamination has been removed, the plastic waste moves to the next stage in the plant, which could be further separation of contamination or sorting by colour or plastic type.

The high level of metal contamination highlights the challenges facing waste plastic processors.  It was one of many contaminants, not present in the original plastic packaging, that have to be removed.

Before UK and EU Government officials make recycling pledges to pacify environmentalists, they need to consider the practicalities and difficulties faced when processing waste plastic packaging.  Contamination will always be present, and is one of the reasons for exporting this difficult waste material overseas.  Reducing such contamination will make it easier to recycle waste plastic, but there is no clear strategy to achieve this goal at present.

For further information on Bunting Magnetics and Master Magnets and our range of metal separation equipment designed for the waste and recycling sector, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

This article was first published by EPPM Magazine (European Plastic Product Manufacturer) in February 2018.

 

42 In Line Magnets Ensure Baby Food Is Metal Free

Magnetic Separators Remove Metal During Baby Food Production

A Baby Food producer based in Germany has purchased a further 14 In Line Magnetic Separators to guarantee a metal-free product.  The latest 14 In Line Magnetic Separators are in additional to 28 already supplied and installed as they equip their food manufacturing plants across Europe.

Bunting Magnetics In Line Magnet-9528In Line Magnetic Separators are designed to easily fit into an existing pneumatic or gravity fed pipeline transporting food stuffs.  Both ends are fabricated to connect with the installed pipework.  The central body of the In Line Magnet has a strong Rare Earth Neodymium Plate Magnet.

A key feature of the In Line Magnetic Separator is that there is no restriction to the product flow.  In this particular project, baby food passes through the body of the In Line Magnet and any ferrous or weakly magnetic materials are attracted by the strong magnetic field and then held against the face or the Plate Magnet.

The Plate Magnet has a tapered step, which intensifies the magnetic force and also provides an area to collect rogue metal contamination.

As the Baby Food has chucks of vegetables and meat, it was important that there was no restriction to the product flow where the food could be damaged or blockages could occur.  The Magnetic Liquid Filter, which uses Rare Earth Neodymium Tube Magnets, would not have been suitable for this application.

Bunting Magnetics In Line Magnet-9552Periodically, the captured metal is cleaned off the face of the Plate Magnet.  Access is designed to be simple and quick, with the Plate Magnet swinging away from the body on hinges.

All 42 In Line Magnetic Separators are designed for use in pneumatic pipelines up to 15 psi.  They are manufactured from Stainless Steel there are a range of standard sizes available.

For more information on the Pneumatic In-Line Magnet or any Magnetic Separator, please contact our team on:

Phone:  +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email:  sales@buntingeurope.com

Via the website

Reviews of typical food processing plant layouts with suggested locations for Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors include:

Prime Location for Bunting at RWM 2018

Magnetic Separators Greet Visitors at RWM

Bunting Magnetics and Master Magnets have booked the stand greeting visitors as they enter through the main entrance at this year’s RWM recycling and waste exhibition (NEC, Birmingham, UK 12-13 September 2018).

“After last week’s RWM Digital Marketing Masterclass in London, we got together with Nick and the new RWM team and talked through the best way forward,” explained Dave Hills, Bunting’s Head of Sales.  “Everyone wants this show to be a success and so have taken the bold step of securing the stand opposite the entrance to the show.  Our aim is to have our stand full of working equipment to immediately capture the imagination of the visitors.”

Bunting Master Magnets at RWM17
The Bunting & Master Magnets stand at RWM17

Bunting Magnetics has been gradually increasing their presence at the show over the past 5 years.

“We started with a small stand at the back of the hall,” said Dave.  “Over the past few years our presence in the recycling industry has grown, especially when we acquired Master Magnets [January 2017].  And our stand has gradually increased in size and moved towards the show entrance.”

On the larger stand, that will greet visitors to RWM, Bunting and Master Magnets plan to exhibit a wide range of Metal Separation equipment including:

“Exhibiting working equipment at exhibitions has always worked for us,” said Dave.  “Seeing is believing and that starts at an exhibition.  Last year, visitors saw the separation capabilities of our Stainless Steel Separator and Eddy Current Separator and subsequently conducted tests in our laboratory at Redditch.  We want to demonstrate what is possible with our new and innovative technology.”

The stand at RWM18 will be the largest Bunting and Master Magnets has ever had in Europe.

“As one of the biggest manufacturers of metal separation equipment in the world, we wanted to make a bold statement.  We have some great ideas for visitor engagement at RWM and are already starting on our planning!”

For further information on Bunting Magnetics and Master Magnets and our range of metal separation equipment designed for the waste and recycling sector, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

 

 

A Digital Future for RWM?

A New Vision for the UK’s Leading Waste and Recycling Exhibition

The message from the RWM digital marketing masterclass was clear.  The new owners, PRYSM Media, are going to do everything they can to breathe life into the event and turn it into a ‘must-attend’ show for anyone involved in waste management and recycling.

RWM Digital Masterclass 2018_02_06

The event was held at the impressive Google London HQ in St Giles High Street.  The new RWM management team, led by Nick Woore and Hassan Allan, spoke passionately about their successes at other business shows and outlined their plans to turn around the fortunes of the UK’s number one waste and recycling exhibition.

The presentation highlighted the need for exhibitors to get involved and take some responsibility for promoting the event before, during and after the date.  The new team have made a wide range of digital marketing tools available.  The message was clear – by working together, we can make RWM work.

Digital marketing gurus from Google and then Adtrak took to the stage. They talked about the trends of website traffic and methods that are proven to increase engagement and stimulate website activity and, ultimately, increase business.

One surprising statistic was the growth in website views on mobile phones, although our own data does not appear to support these figures.  Google talked about ways to maximise a company’s presence on their platform and also highlighted the need to be visual with photographs and video.  It was surprising to hear that YouTube was actually the World’s second largest search engine.

Adtrak got the whole audience involved with multi-choice questions and delivered some startling statistics:

  • The optimum page loading speed for a website is 2.4 seconds;
  • 41% of searches resulted in a click on an advertised entry (i.e. those commonly at the top or bottom of a page);
  • 75% of people do not search past page 1;

RWM17 Tweet

There is no doubt that this was a positive step forward for RWM.  The organisers appear more enthusiastic and have a plan.  However, the message was clear – we as exhibitors also need to take action, promoting the event and engaging in digital marketing.  This might sound like common sense as it should already be a key part of any company’s marketing strategy.  For many it is not.  Digital marketing remains a mystery for many of the exhibitors and visitors of RWM, especially in the waste and recycling sector.  The new RWM team reported that the 409 exhibitors posted just over 500 #RWM17 tweets per day at the last RWM.  The 2017 organisers tweeted prolifically and many companies tweeted more than once and so the use of this platform was actually very limited.

Importantly, the new RWM team will provide help and support.

The recycling and waste industry and CIWM needs a UK based event and hopefully the PRYSM Media team can deliver. Irrespective of whether RWM is held every year or for two days instead of three, the industry sector needs to support the new organisers. Together maybe we can make this work.

For further information on Bunting Magnetics and our range of metal separation equipment designed for the waste and recycling sector, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website

Supporting Year of Engineering

Finding Our Future Engineers

In November 2017, the UK government announced that 2018 will be the Year of Engineering, a national campaign to increase awareness and understanding of what engineers do among young people aged 7-16, their parents and their teachers.  This is part of a year-long campaign to tackle the engineering skills gap and widen the pool of young people who join the profession.

Bunting-4431

At Bunting Magnetics and Master Magnets, we depend on the skills and experience of our engineering team.  Our future as a business is dependent on young people entering engineering.

To support the Year of Engineering, we plan to use photographs and videos to highlighting the importance of engineering in our everyday world.  Each month we will focus on a project where engineering ingenuity has resulted in the development or enhancement of a product and solved a problem for one of our customers.

The Art of Metal Separation

The vast majority of our design work revolves around Magnetism.  By utilising magnetic forces and principles we design and manufacture systems that can separate and detect metal in a non-metallic material.  In some applications, we can even separate individual metals.  These are called Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors.

Our first photographs and video focus on solving the problem of Metal Contamination in a plastics production process using the FF Drawer Magnet.  This Magnetic Separator has been designed to remove small and fine ferrous metal contamination from dry free-flowing materials such as plastic beads and even foodstuffs.

The FF Drawer Magnet has two key constituent parts:

  1. The outer fabricated metal housing;
  2. The internal high strength Tube Magnet assembly;

The outer body is designed and drawn by engineers in our drawing office based upon information provided by external Sales Engineers.  The internal engineering team will consider how the Drawer Magnet is going to fit into the customer’s production line looking at the overall size, type of connections, and accessibility.  This is then built by one of our skilled fabricators using the drawings.

Drawings are also provided to our assembly team to construct the high strength Tube Magnet assembly.  The high power of the Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets mean that care is needed and the assembly is only undertaken by skilled engineers.

Bunting FF Drawer Magnetic Separators

Our fabricator then combines the housing and the Tube Magnet assembly and it is ready for despatch to the customer.  Once arriving on site, the customer’s own engineering team will install the Magnetic Separator.

The Importance of Engineering

Engineers are involved in every stage of solving the metal contamination problem.  Capturing the problematic metal has significantly reduced the amount of waste and has protected delicate processing equipment.  For the customer, the Magnetic Separator is now a vital part of the process.

This is just one of many projects our engineers work on every day.

For further information on our engineering projects, please visit our website or contact us on:

Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081
Email: press@buntingeurope.com
Via the website