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Axion’s MRF event highlights need for accurate sampling data

Many operators of UK Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) could be failing to sample and measure their mixed waste streams correctly, resulting in a potential loss of value from the many thousands of tonnes of materials being processed.

Poor understanding of the tools and techniques involved are possible reasons why medium-sized and smaller plants, in particular, are not implementing adequate testing regimes, claimed Keith Freegard, Director of resource recovery specialist Axion Consulting.

At Axion’s recent second seminar, exhibition and networking event for MRF operators and waste management companies, Keith highlighted the importance of using accurate data that helps modern MRFs improve efficiency and produce high volumes of high quality materials to meet appropriate quality standards and recycling targets.

Speaking after the ‘Science of Sorting’ event in Birmingham, Keith said: "While most of the bigger players have sampling regimes in place, many smaller ones haven’t. Meaningful statistics on inputs and outputs are essential if MRFs are to reduce contaminants at source and satisfy rising demand for reliable supply of quality end products into secondary re-processing markets."

Future legislative changes, Keith warned, could make sampling mandatory as part of a proposed Code of Practice, requiring all operators to implement some form of statistical control and measurement of material composition. "Sampling enables the modern multi-million pound MRF to do its job properly and should be built into contracts to provide consistency, reliability and instil confidence with customers," he added.

The event’s focus on increasing MRF profitability through improving quality included waste processing industry experts sharing knowledge on the critical factors and technologies involved in designing and optimising a MRF to maximise the yield of recyclable material streams and revenue. They included Lee Clayton of Deltawaste, Andrew Hawkes of IFE and Darren Davis of Sutco UK Ltd.

Delegates and exhibitors alike valued the networking and information-sharing opportunities with Peter Bannan, of UK agents for Herbold Meckesheim GmbH commenting: "It’s been very good, with inquiries that have helped us to progress projects. Overall we’re pleased and will definitely return next year."

Adam Griffiths, Process Design Manager at Shanks Waste Management Ltd, said: "As a MRF-focussed event, this was certainly worthwhile and it was interesting to hear other operators’ experiences."

Among the exhibitors were 360 Environmental, IFE Aufbereitungstechnik GmbH, Sutco (the new OKLM), Matthiessen Lagertechnik, Nihot Recycling Technology, R J Herbert, Pellenc, S+S Separation and Sorting Technology, Stadler GmbH, , Steinert, Tomra (the new TITECH) and Axion Consulting.

Axion Consulting is part of the Axion Group that develops and operates innovative resource recovery and processing solutions for recycling waste materials. The Group works with a wide range of clients, from Government agencies and local authorities to companies in diverse commercial sectors, on the practical development of new processing and collection methods to recover value from waste resources.

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