What is Incinerator Bottom Ash?
In the UK almost 11 million tonnes of non-recyclable waste is sent to Energy from Waste facilities (EFW) where the waste is incinerated, resulting in the production of electricity which powers local homes. After incineration, the residue left behind at the bottom of the furnace is called Incinerator Bottom Ash or IBA. The good news is that all metal that goes to Energy from Waste facilities is recoverable – nothing goes to waste.
Incinerator Bottom Ash Processing
IBA is collected and taken to a processing plant where, through a range of sorting techniques, it is separated into clean aggregates which are used within the construction industry; ferrous (mainly magnetic) IBA which is sold to the steel industry; and non-ferrous (not magnetic) IBA.
Non-ferrous IBA then goes through a secondary treatment process which enables the separation of valuable metals such as aluminium, copper, brass and zinc. 60% of the non-ferrous IBA is aluminium, of which it is estimated that 85% was once packaging such as cans, foil and aerosols.
Aluminium derived from IBA
The aluminium separated from IBA is sold onto secondary smelters where it is re-melted and used in all sorts of applications, such as aluminium engine blocks for cars.
We would always prioritise the collection of household aluminium packaging through clean collection systems to ensure that the maximum value of the material is achieved. However, with the growth of Energy from Waste plants set to increase, it is important to highlight the excellent technology and treatment processes that are allowing us to recycle the aluminium content of IBA.
Take a look at our new film, made in partnership with Scanmetals UK Ltd to find out more about the process.