Metal Detectors Detecting More Than Treasure

Technology Keeping Waste Metal-Free

The BBC television series Detectorists has significantly increased the public’s awareness of metal detectors, but many people remain unaware of their importance in the recycling of waste materials.

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Although the size and design of metal detector used in the recycling industry may be different to those used by the enthusiasts on the television show, the basic concept is the same.  When an electric current is passed through the coil of a metal detector, it creates a magnetic field.  If a piece of electrically conductive metal is close to the coil, eddy currents will be induced in the metal, and this produces a magnetic field of its own.  A separate control recognises that the new magnetic field has changed the metal detector’s magnetic field and identifies that there is metal present.

Metal Detectors are becoming increasingly important in the recycling industry.  Magnetic Separators and Eddy Current Separators are widely used to remove liberated ferrous, non-ferrous and even some stainless-steel metals, but are unable to separate metals that are imbedded in material or are unresponsive to these types of metal separators.

This is particularly important in recycling operations where the waste material is large in size and needs to be shredded or granulated.  A common location for the Metal Detector is on the conveyor prior to size reduction, where it identifies the presence of any metal that may damage the shredder or granulator.  The effect of metal damage can be costly in terms of repair and also downtime.  Typical waste materials include plastic, wood, and demolition waste.

There are primarily two different types of Metal Detector suitable for detecting metal in such conveyed material.  The Underbelt Conveyor Metal Detector is ideal when handling larger materials of variable shapes and sizes and the aim is to detect larger metal.  Two different coil designs mean that the Metal Detector is suitable for belt widths from 100mm to 1200mm.  This design of Metal Detector identifies and then stops the conveyor belt.  Operators then locate and manually remove the metal contamination.

The second type of Metal Detector surrounds the conveyor belt.  This increases the detection sensitivity and is also needed when there is a deeper burden depth on the conveyor.  There are various coil configurations, such as the QDC, QTA, and TN77, and the selection is based upon each application.

Once the waste has passed through the process of size reduction and separation, Metal Detectors are commonly used to check that metal is not present in the final product.  In some applications, the material will still be conveyed and so previously mentioned designs are used.  However, in applications where the particles are now significantly smaller different designs of Metal Detector are required.

Bunting Metal Separation System Recapture Plastics-0424In plastic recycling plants, Free Fall Metal Detectors such as the quickTRON 03R not only detect but also reject metal contamination.   Gravity free-fall style metal separators are specifically designed to isolate and separate any contaminated material moving in the product flow.  They automatically detect, pick up and reject both ferrous and non-ferrous from the product flow without any interruption to the line process.

As each application can be unique, selecting the optimum Metal Detector for an application is best achieved by conducting a site visit to understand the process and the objective.

Bunting Magnetics is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors which includes the Master Magnets and Metal Detection branded range of equipment.

For further information on metal separation equipment designed for detecting and removing metal from plastic waste and in other recycling applications, please visit our website or contact us on:

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

Other Plastic Waste & Recycling Articles

Metal Contaminated Sugar Alert

Latest Metal Contamination Food Safety Alert

On the 28th July 2018, the UK Food Standards Agency released a food alert announcing ‘Tereos UK recalls Granulated Sugar due to the presence of small metal pieces‘.  This is the third report of metal being found in food reaching the consumer in 2018 after six metal contamination alerts in 2017.

Metal In Sugar

Metal enters the food manufacturing process via many different avenues.  Metal can be present in ingredients being delivered to a food processing plant and unless removed at source can enter the process and cause significant damage.  Equipment failure and wear can also lead to metal contamination and is usually removed with the right combination of magnetic separators and metal detectors.

The source of the metal contamination in the granulated sugar is presently unknown and an investigation is most likely underway.  The sugar is sold in the UK by the retailers Iceland, Poundland, and Sainsbury’s and has been recalled.  The metal contamination will be costly in terms of direct financial cost and reputation.

Getting Metal Out of Sugar

Removing metal contamination from granulated sugar is commonly achieved using Drawer Filter Magnets and Plate Magnets.  Plate Magnets are installed in chutes where the sugar flows over the surface.  Due to the small size of the sugar granules Neodymium Rare Earth Plate Magnets are preferable, producing the highest magnetic attractive force to remove small ferrous and magnetically-susceptible work-hardened stainless steel.

SC FF drawer - no tr#14B20B

Due to the potential sticky nature of the sugar, sleeved Drawer Filter Magnets are often preferred, in an easy-clean design.  The Rare Earth Tube Magnet sits tightly inside a fixed stainless steel outer tube.  Cleaning forms part of a daily maintenance schedule, with the Tube Magnets being withdrawn from the sleeves to drag and deposit metal contamination in a discharge chute.

Magnetic Separation Audits

Bunting engineers conduct regular Magnetic Separation Audits at many food manufacturing plants.  An audit involves the visual and physical inspection of every magnetic separator in a plant to check on the location, suitability integrity (ie checking welds and for wear), and magnetic strength (which can deteriorate with excessive heat, weld damage, or if dropped).  In April three Magnetic Audits were conducted and highlighted a number of issues that have since been addressed.

For more information on preventing Metal Contamination Food Safety Scares, or to arrange a free onsite survey and audit of a particular plant or process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Phone:  +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email:  sales@buntingeurope.com

Via the website

Other Food Safety Articles

 

Hillhead Attracts Bunting Europe

Bunting Europe Exhibit at Hillhead for the First Time

Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors for the quarrying, mining and recycling industry will be on show on stand C9 at this year’s Hillhead exhibition (Hillhead Quarry, Buxton, 26-28 June 2018).

Bunting Master Magnets at RWM17

The joint Bunting Europe and Master Magnets stand will feature Permanent Overband Magnets (self and manual clean designs) and two different types of Metal Detector (the TN77 and QTA).

“Hillhead has always been a really important exhibition for Master Magnets,” said Dave Hills, Bunting’s Head of Sales.  “The Master Magnets Overband Magnets and Metal Detection Ltd range of detectors are widely regarded as industry standards for both quarrying and recycling.”

Held in a limestone quarry in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside, Hillhead is the largest exhibition of its kind anywhere in the world. Continually adapting, it provides a spectacular and unique setting for exhibitors and visitors alike to do business amongst live working demonstrations and static displays.

aggregate-industries-tn77-e1528271468785.jpg

Many quarries use the combination of a Permanent Overband Magnet and Metal Detector to protect processing equipment such as screens, crushers and conveyor belts.  The Overband Magnet removes any magnetic tramp metal leaving the Metal Detector to identify non-magnetic metal parts such as manganese steel digger teeth.

“The recycling of construction waste continues to grow in importance and features strongly at Hillhead,” said Dave.  “With equipment such as the Mastertrax Mobile Eddy Current Separator, we have practical solutions for removing ferrous and non-ferrous metals.”

May through to July is a very busy exhibition period for Bunting Europe and Master Magnets.  Hillhead is just over one month after the very successful IFAT waste and recycling show in Germany and is followed by the Waste ’18 exhibition (Warwickshire Exhibition Centre, 5 July) and CARS (NAEC Stoneleigh, 11-12 July).

“Exhibiting at these events is so important,” explained Dave.  “We meet both existing and potentially new clients and can also show them what our equipment can do.”

For further information on the Magnetic Separation and Metal Detection equipment on display at Hillhead, please contact Dave Hills on:

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

Master Magnets Mobile Eddy Current Separator (1200)

59 Pastry Products Potentially Contaminated with Metal

Tesco, Aldi and Nisa Recall Pastry Product Due to Potential Metal Contamination

On the 2nd June 2018, the Food Standards Agency announced that the Addo Food Group was recalling batches of chilled pastry products, including sausage rolls, pasties, pastry pies and slices because of potential contamination with small pieces of metal wire.  This is the latest food safety recall due to metal contamination and the announcement comes seven days before the start of National Food Safety Week.

Addo Food Group manufacture the chilled pastry products as own-branded products for major UK supermarkets Tesco, Aldi and Nisa, as well as those produced under the Walls and Millers brands.  The extent of the recall is substantial, with 59 products being recalled.

How Does Metal Get Into Food?

Unfortunately, food product recalls due to metal contamination are relatively common with 6 Food Safety Scares reported by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2017.

Metal In Food-1127

However, with the correct combination of Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors, such disastrous and costly product recalls should not happen.

Metal can enter the food production process at a number of stages:

  1. Metal can be present in the foodstuffs being delivered.  To prevent such an introduction of metal into the process, many food processors pass the in-feed material over Magnetic Separators and through Metal Detectors;
  2. Processing equipment wear and failure (e.g. screen break, pump collapse, etc) can cause metal to enter the process stream;
  3. Accidental introduction by people on site;

However, with the right combination of metal separation and detection equipment, such metal can be found and removed before any finished product leaves the production facility.

How To Prevent Metal Contamination

The vast majority of food processing plants have Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors installed.  Many of these have been in operation for many years which, in some cases, can be decades.

Bunting Magnetics Pull Test Kit
Demonstration of how to use the Bunting Magnetics pull test kit to measure the strength of Tube Magnets and Plate Magnets

During some recent Magnetic Separator Audits at UK food processing plants, we have found Magnetic Separators that have been:

  • Damaged and no longer have any magnetic strength;
  • Moved and are positioned in such a way that it is very unlikely to capture any metal contamination;
  • Cleaned too infrequently, resulting in a substantial build up of captured metal until the magnet face is full and the Magnetic Separator no longer operates;
  • Purchased and installed without any check of the magnetic strength, which subsequently turns out to the very weak;
  • Installed many years previously and now provides limited protection due to the poor magnetic strength;

To prevent metal contamination problems, it is advisable to have an annual audit by an external third party.  This audit then forms part of the quality and safety management system.

It will be interesting to determine the cause of the latest food recall due to metal contamination, but it will take longer to damage the reputation of the manufacturer Addo Food Group and consumer confidence in the affected products.

For more information on the issue of Metal Contamination and Metal Separation, or to arrange a free onsite survey and audit of a particular plant or process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Phone:  +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email:  sales@buntingeurope.com

Via the website

 

 

 

Plastics Positivity at Technivation

Polymer Training and Innovation Centre Hosts UK Plastics Sector Professionals

The Technivation conference, hosted by the Polymer Training and Innovation Centre in Telford (18th April 2018), attracted delegates from across the UK plastics sector.

The Polymer Training and Innovation Centre (PITC) provides training for engineers working with plastics and has an extensive range of working equipment including moulding machines, pneumatic conveying systems, and magnetic separators.

Bunting Europe at TechnivationAt Technivation, there were talks from machinery manufacturers and also an industry update from the British Plastics Federation.  BPF Membership Services Director, Stephen Hunt, highlighted a change in the awareness and public perception of plastics since the airing of the BBC Blue Planet II series at the end of 2017.  The BPF have been working hard to clarify misconceptions about plastics, highlighting that plastic is vital in the manufacture of so many products including cars, medical equipment, and IT.  They are presently working closely with the UK Government on the proposed tax for single use plastics, which closes on 18th May 2018.

As Stephen Hunt explained, the plastics sector is the 8th largest exporting industry in the UK with a turnover of £25.5 billion.  The sector is also the 2nd largest employer in the manufacturing industry.  He also highlighted how waste from the USA and European Union combined only contributes 2% to the amount of plastic waste found in our oceans.

Delegates at Technivation had the opportunity to tour the training facility and meet representatives from equipment manufacturers including Summit Systems, Kistler, Arburg, and Staubli.  Tom Higginbottom, Bunting’s Sales Engineer, was demonstrating how to effectively remove metal from the plastics process using a combination of a FF Drawer Filter Magnet and Quicktron Metal Detector.

“At Technivation it was really good to be able to demonstrate how to remove metal and also to show how the equipment is actually installed on a working moulding machine,” explained Tom.  “We supplied the FF Drawer Filter Magnets to PTIC so that the importance of metal removal is included in the training programmes.”

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Bunting Europe at Technivation

6 Metal in Food Safety Scares in 2017

UK Food Standards Agency Reports 6 Metal-in-Food Problems in 2017

Six warnings of UK food being contaminated with metal fragments were reported by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2017.  The food safety warnings ranged from sweets to meat products.

Metal In Food Safety Warnings 2017

Greencore recalled various brands of Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wraps because of concerns that the products contained metal fragments (20 December 2017).  Greencore, as precautionary measure, recalled various brands of Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wraps.  The products, manufactured by Greencore, were sold in Aldi, Co-op Food and Morrisons retail stores.

Athole Tablet Ltd recalled tablet products because of possible contamination by small pieces of metal (31 August 2017).

William Santus & Co recalled Uncle Joe’s Liquorice & Aniseed Extra Strong Mints (35g tins) as there were concerns that the sweets may have contained small pieces of metal (15 May 2017).

Morrisons recalled Trimmed Beans because of the reported presence of small pieces of metal (20 April 2017).

Metal Found In Morrisons Green Beans

Quorn Foods Ltd recalled a batch of its frozen Quorn Meat Free Mince because of the presence of small pieces of metal (2 March 2017).  The affected product was only on sale at Tesco from 27 February 2017 to 1 March 2017.

Lotus Bakeries UK Ltd recalled Lotus Biscoff Crunchy Biscuit Spread because of small metal contamination concerns (2 March 2017).  This product was sold at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado and Nisa stores.  In addition, batch number 7005109 with ‘best before’ date 5 February 2018 has also been sold through East End Foods.

How Does Metal Get Into Food?

Metal In Food-1136All of the foods listed have been processed and it is during that process that metal can contaminate the product.  Food entering a process plant will potentially go through stages of washing, size reduction (e.g. cutting, mashing, slicing), mixing, forming, cooking and packaging.  Metal can be introduced from the wear or failure of processing equipment, or through human error.  In fact, it is not uncommon for metal to contaminate food.  However, it is unusual that metal contaminated food reaches the end consumer.

All food companies use a combination of Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors to separate and detect the metal.  When metal contaminated products are found to reach the consumer, it can be concluded that this safety equipment failed.

Reviewing the performance of the Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors on a regular basis is important to ensure that any metal contamination problem is identified and dealt with at the factory.  Regular audits will check the integrity of the Magnetic Separators, assessing and recording the magnetic strength and reassessing the location.  Audits for Metal Detectors will check the application, assessing detection sensitivities.

Often such audits find that changes in the process or product (including packaging) mean that the performance of the Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors is no longer optimised.

Thankfully, metal in food safety alerts remain relatively infrequent in the UK, although each one causes significant financial and reputation damage to the producer and food retailer.

For more information on preventing Metal Contamination Food Safety Scares, or to arrange a free onsite survey and audit of a particular plant or process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Phone:  +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email:  sales@buntingeurope.com

Via the website

 

 

 

Fish Cakes Contaminated with Metal

Youngs Seafood Recalls Metal and Plastic Contaminated Fish Cakes 

In February 2018, Young’s Seafood Ltd recalled its Chip Shop Fish Cakes 6 pack due to the possible presence of pieces of metal and plastic in some packs.  The presence of metal and plastic makes this product unsafe to eat and presents a safety risk. The affected product is sold in some Farmfoods and Heron Foods stores.

Youngs is a leading British producer and distributor of frozen, fresh, and chilled seafood, supplying approximately 40% of all the fish eaten in the United Kingdom every year.  However, this product recall damages their brand and customer confidence.

Where Does Metal Contamination Come From?

Metal contamination is commonly found in food processing plants.  It can be present in the food or ingredients delivered to the processing plant, or introduced during the production process.

Food producers use a combination of Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors to ensure that the metal contamination is removed before the final packaged food is despatched to supermarkets and sales outlets.

So How Could This Latest Food Scare Happen?

Youngs is not the first or last major food producer to face a product recall due to metal contamination.  Most food producers have installed suitable Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors.  However, often the contamination issue is a result of old equipment no longer adequate for the application, a failure of equipment, or a change in the process.

Magnetic Separators do not lose magnetic strength over time unless they are damaged or subjected to high temperatures.  However, it is important to annually check the magnetic strength and integrity of the Magnetic Separators.  This can be easily done using a Magnetic Pull Test Kit as part of a Magnetic Separator Audit.

Bunting Magnetics Pull Test Kit

The Magnetic Separator Audit also reviews changes in the production process and may propose the relocation of some equipment to ensure that maximum protection is maintained.

Metal Detectors are often used later in the process, once the product is made and after packaging.  The settings of the Metal Detector need to be regularly checked, especially if there are changes in the production process, product or packaging.  Also, settings on the Metal Detector may be accidentally altered, reducing the sensitivity and resulting in metal contamination being missed.  Again, an annual Metal Detector Audit will review the performance and settings and ensure that there is maximum protection.

Unfortunately, reports on metal contaminated food are not unusual.  Other examples include:

For more information on preventing Metal Contamination Food Safety Scares, or to arrange a free onsite survey and audit of a particular plant or process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Phone:  +44 (0) 1442 875081

Email:  sales@buntingeurope.com

Via the website

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

 

 

Our 2017 Review

A Look Back at Our News & Blogs from 2017

2017 has been another busy and exciting time for Bunting Magnetics Europe with some great news stories.  In this blog we look back at the past 12 months and review the stories that hit our headlines.

January

bunting_master_magnetsWe started the year by announcing that Bunting had acquired leading UK Magnetic Separator and Metal Detection company Master Magnets.  This changed the Magnetic Separator landscape in Europe.

At the same time, the Bunting team was exhibiting at the Arabplast exhibition in Dubai.  The plastics focused event was attended and visited by plastics professionals across the region.  Sales were even made on the stand!

Our 7th of our 8 Magnetic Separator Myths examined the impossibility of achieving 100% metal separation.

To finish off January, we announced record sales in 2016 despite the backdrop of Brexit and political uncertainty.

February

We started the month with our 8th Magnetic Separator myth, asking if it was possible to block a magnetic field.

Bunting also joined the British Plastics Federation, reflecting our longtime involvement in the sector providing metal separation solutions.

Bunting at Exposolidos 2017

Our exhibition focus in the month was Exposolidos in Spain with our local representative SMED Tecnica.

In February, we also asked the question of whether our Environmental future is simple down to design?  This was written in response to the growing awareness of the environmental impact of waste that would gradually intensify through the year.

We finished off the month with the launch of the Teardrop Tube Magnet, ideal for use in fine powders where bridging might be an issue.

March

The strength of a Magnetic Separator is often expressed in ‘gauss’.  However, the vast majority of people are unable to measure gauss and so we showed a simple practical way to check the magnetic power using a simple spring balance.

Our 9th Magnetic Separator myth highlighted the dangers of strong Magnets and our 10th myth looked at ways to easily and safely clean captured metal off  Magnetic Separators.

We also investigated a US FDA report stating the ‘Ingesting Metal Fragments Can Cause Injury‘.

In March, we exhibited at the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics show in Farnborough UK.

April

Metal is commonly found in spices and we examined a typical plant and identified the best locations for Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors.

We also reported that we sold a record number of Plate Magnets in 2016 for export to Indonesia and 28 In-Line Magnets to a German baby food producer.

New Bunting Sales EmployeesWith the continued growth of the business, we were thrilled to announce the appointment of two new sales engineers, Tom Higginbottom and Gordon Kerr.

In April, UK supermarket Morrisons was hit by a metal-in-food scare and we looked at how this could have happened and ways in which such a problem could have been prevented.

May

Our Food Safety theme continued in May when, during a metal separation survey, we found large amounts of metal safely captured when processing rice.  Our Perfect Plant review assessed the best methods and equipment location to ensure that metal is removed from Processed Vegetables.

Exports continued to proved successful with the shipment of a HFS Drawer Magnet to a Plastics recycling company in France.

Our technical review in May reviewed the effect of high temperatures on Rare Earth Magnetic Separators.

June

There was a political flavour to news in June after the UK’s general election and we investigated what the leading parties were promising with regards to the environment.  At the same time, Bunting and Master Magnets were jointly exhibiting at Waste 17, a major UK recycling show in Manchester.

The week after, Bunting supported local representative BMS France at the FIP Solution Plastique exhibition in Lyon, France.

To mark the UK’s Food Safety Week, we reviewed recent cases of ‘metal’-in-food’ and the potential implications for the manufacturer, sales outlet, and customer.

July

Denis_Elkins_Bunting_Magnetics_Europe-2176In July, we were thrilled to announce the successful transition to ISO9001 2015 Quality and the ISO14001 2015 Environmental Standards.

In the media there was increasing attention on the issue of plastic waste in the environment and we commented on the necessity of a global strategy for Plastic Waste.

August

The environmental theme continued in August asking if the UK could realistically increase their metal packaging recycling rate by 10% by 2020.

September

As a prelude to RWM17, the UK’s largest waste and recycling show, we looked at 3 UK Waste and Recycling Facts such as asking how much waste do we actually generate?

Bunting Master Magnets at RWM17

After exhibiting at RWM, there were many questions being asked by exhibitors and visitors about the future of the event despite the importance of recycling and the global waste problem.

October

Bunting Magnetics Europe at Interplas 2017

The UK’s leading plastics show, Interplas, is held every 3 years and, as in previous years, it was very well supported by both exhibitors and visitors.  The environmental issues associated with plastic waste was gathering momentum.

Removing metal from fine powders can be extremely difficult and we produced a technical report looking at the best techniques and ideal equipment.

Tom Higginbottom attended the successful Bulk Solids & Powders show SyMas in Poland with the local Bunting representative TEKPRO.

November

The Manufacturing and Engineering industries have been concerned about the lack of young engineers and hopefully initiatives such as Tomorrow’s Engineers Week will help address this issue.

We were also excited to report two consecutive record sales months in September and October.  2017 was proving to be as successful as 2016.

Our latest Perfect Plant review focused on the brewing of beer and ensuring that all metal is removed to protect delicate processing equipment and the taste of the beer.

December

Pantomine BlogThe BBC TV series Blue Planet had highlighted the global problem of plastic waste in our oceans.  However, as the pressure increased on the plastics sector, we asked whether Plastic was the Pantomime Villain of the recycling world?

We hope you have enjoyed reading our news and blogs in 2017.  If there are any topics that you would like reviewed, then please get in touch and send an email to Paul our press officer (press@buntingeurope.com).

For further information on Magnetic Separators or Metal Detectors please contact the Bunting team on:

Is Plastic the Recycling Pantomime Villain?

Pressure Grows on Plastics and the Environment

In 2017 the media has gradually increased the pressure on the plastics industry by highlighting the effect of waste plastic in our global environment.  This focus shows no sign of going away, with the UN oceans chief stating that Ocean plastic is a ‘planetary crisis’.  

plastic-trash-in-oceans-and-waterways

Ironically, in many cases plastics are primarily used because they reduce weight and thus save energy and our natural resources.  Plastic packaging also significantly reduces food waste by keeping it fresh and is used when transporting food around the globe.

The world’s first fully synthetic plastic dates back to 1907 when the material bakelite was invented in New York by Leo Baekeland.  He also coined the term ‘plastics’.  Since then plastic has become one of the most versatile and used materials on the planet.

So why have we fallen out of love with plastic?

In July, we reported that academics were predicting that there would be 12 million metric tonnes of plastic being in landfill or the natural environment by 2050.  The recent David Attenborough nature series Blue Planet II shown on BBC1 has shown how waste plastic is found in our oceans, even reaching the depths of the Mariana Trench.

However, as highlighted by the British Plastics Federation at the UK’s waste and recycling show RWM (held in Birmingham, UK September 2017), the ‘plastic waste’ problem is complicated.

bunting_metal_separation_module_recapture_plastics-7611The fundamental global problem is that 2 million people do not have access to solid waste collection (United Nations).  The properties of plastic that make it so useful in our everyday lives also makes it difficult to breakdown and easy to get blown and transported away from the rubbish dump and into the local environment.  Gradually, this plastic waste will migrate down to the sea.

The larger problem is the origin of plastic waste.  In the developed world of the USA and Europe, investment in research and technology means that those countries only contribute approximately 2% of the plastic found in oceans.  82% is estimated to originate in Asia (The British Plastics Federation).

The problem is not just a ‘plastic waste’ issue but a ‘waste’ issue in general.  Plastic is not the only product being thrown away and ending up in our oceans.  Industrial waste is a huge problem, but is presently not the focus of attention.  In many developing countries dealing with waste is simply not their most important problem to address.  Malnutrition, housing, transport, jobs are all higher on the list of priorities.

Plastic has become waste’s ‘pantomime villain’.

This global problem needs a global solution.  There is no doubt that the designers of plastic products have a huge responsibility and need to consider the consequences of ideas such as introducing plastic microbeads into cosmetic products.

Bunting BPI-6151In the UK, we presently recycle 29% of our plastic and our target for 2020 is 57%.  The figure is so low due to the complexity of the process and economics.  Magnetic Separators, Eddy Current Separators and Metal Detectors remove metal and there is other technology to sort by colour and plastic type.  However, producing a useful plastic from waste that can be introduced as a raw material into primary plastic production (such as happens with aluminium and steel) is presently exceptionally difficult.  Until that happens, plastic waste will continue to pose a problem.

For further information on separating metal from plastics during the production of the virgin product or during the recycling process, please contact the Bunting team on:

Other articles on Plastics Recycling include: