Middleton sorting system and baler help Amey drive recycling targets in Gloucester City

Amey, the waste and recycling contractor for Gloucester City Council, is operating a new waste sorting and baling solution at its depot in Gloucester, designed and installed by recycling machinery specialist Middleton Engineering. This follows a new kerbside collection regime to boost recycling across the city to 50% and reduce costs in line with budget pressures.

Completed and commissioned, the new sorting line will enable Amey to increase production volumes and separate and bale comingled recycling, including high value plastics and other recyclates, to generate additional income opportunities.

It forms part of an overall strategy with Gloucester City Council to deliver significant cost savings and to divert a further 2,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year. Amey’s waste and recycling contract with Gloucester City Council runs until 2022 with an option to extend to 2027.

Selected following a competitive tender, Middleton Engineering was responsible for all aspects of the bespoke solution including, design, fabrication, installation and commissioning. This comprises a series of chain and slider bed conveyors, five in total, to transport material through a number of overhead automated sorting processes.

These include Overband and Head Drum magnets to remove ferrous metals, an Eddy Current Separator and finally a state-of-the-art Steinert UniSort PR optical sorter, for separating a range of plastics.

Sorted material drops into infeed bays constructed in steel, each measuring 5.5m wide by 7.5m deep and 3m high. Access gantries and walkways, SCADA controls to fully integrate each element of the system and lock off emergency stop switches and safety pulls, complete the solution.

Importantly the optical sorter can be programmed to pick up and accurately sort any one of seven plastic types, for example PET or HDPE, allowing a high degree of flexibility to match changing  commodity prices and enabling Amey to focus on high quality, high value plastics and in turn increase revenues.

Sorted materials are then loaded into a new SCAPA ME2R80 twin ram baler, incorporating a wire tying head, to be baled and shipped out for reprocessing. Manufactured by Middletons in Somerset, this is designed to handle and bale the full range of recyclates including hard plastics, which might be required at a future date, and delivering optimal bale weights and dimensions for economic container transportation.

Malcolm Cox, Operations Manager for Amey explains: “Working flat out we have been cracking through a six-week backlog of material since our new kerbside collection regime started and the new sorting system and baler have been running extremely well. Middletons have been a perfect partner, completing the project inside a tough ten week window to deliver a system that gives us added flexibility and capacity to increase recycling across the city and maximise income streams.”

With the Optical Sorter, we can programme to pull out the highest paying products as the market changes, constantly reprogramming if necessary. The new sorting line also enables us to take on more contracts and process more items. With the goal to increase recycling by 5% we are already exceeding our targets,” he said.

Middleton Engineering has been supplying Amey with balers since 2005 and the latest plant, designed to handle and process material at three tonnes an hour and sized to optimise available space at the Gloucester depot, upgrades earlier ME70 and ME80 machines. With commissioning and operator training completed in March, Amey will also benefit from full back up and support when necessary, including immediate access to a full set of spares to ensure peace of mind and straightforward maintenance.

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