Did you know.….from your black bin bag waste, valuable metals can be recovered that you were not able to recycle in the first instance? As a keen recycler, I thought this was certainly worth exploring.
Scanmetals UK Ltd, based in Willenhall, invited me to tour their recycling and recovery plant, in order to see the process of recovering aluminium and other non-ferrous metals from incineration plants, for the purpose of recycling.
For the uninitiated, the general waste materials are collected at the household kerbside by your local council and taken to an energy from waste plant (EFW). Here the material is passed through the incinerator and the residue left behind is known as incinerator bottom ash (IBA). The majority of this IBA is known as aggregate, and it usually contains an amount of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The IBA is delivered to an aggregate company where it is cleaned and treated and then the aggregate material is sold to companies like Scanmetals who specialise in the recovery of the non-ferrous metals for recycling.
Before my visit, I was advised not to wear my ‘best clothes’; arriving at Scanmetals, unlike other processing facilities I have visited, there was no distinctive smell, but it is extremely dusty in the arrival bay area.
My guide, the lovely Joao, showed me where the aggregate material is delivered from the suppliers and where it is deposited in the large bay area. Joao explained that each suppliers’ material is kept in separate bays in order to report back to each EFW plant the exact amount of non-ferrous material recovered.
The aggregate material looks like a mass of dusty grey stones of all shapes, but on closer inspection (if you don’t mind the dust), you can easily identify items such as aluminium can lids, toothpaste tubes and aerosols.
Joao explained the aggregate material is loaded onto a hopper and is passed in a drier machine (that looks like a big drum) which removes the dirt and moisture and is then passed into a second drier for further cleaning.
We then walked through into a second warehouse, where the cleaned aggregate material is transported on a sort of enclosed conveyor. In here, there were huge pieces of equipment where the different sizes of metal are treated and separated using the latest sorting technology.
I was shown the different types of metal that the Scanmetals technology can recover, such as aluminium, copper, brass, zinc, stainless steel and a surprisingly large amount of coins.
It is an incredible and unique process that we should be shouting about – when it comes to metals, nothing goes to waste. Inspired by what I saw and working with Scanmetals, we’ve produced a video to show their process of recovering aluminium from non-ferrous aggregate materials.
Click on the film below to view this unique process.