UNTHA UK managing director, Marcus Brew, recently participated in a Q&A with Plastics Recycling World. If you missed it, you can read the article in full, here…
All answers supplied by Marcus Brew, managing director, UNTHA UK
How do you view the current market for shredding technology in the plastics industry?
Plastic shredding has long been a popular topic – it’s one of the most frequently visited pages on UNTHA UK’s website, for example, and with mounting public attention surrounding single use plastics and all-things-environment, this trend looks unlikely to change any time soon.
What do you see as the main trends influencing new developments?
For those of us, in industry, who have cared about plastic for quite some time, we’re constantly pushing for better – looking at which trickier plastics we can process, through smarter engineering and technological innovation. When forward thinking operators know what might be possible, they break new boundaries.
What specific problems and applications require new solutions?
As is the case in any environmental sector, we’re seeing operators demand greater throughputs, particle precision and material flexibility, while driving down energy consumption and maintenance to reap environmental and financial gain. And rightly so! This is exactly what technological innovation should achieve – more, with less.
Things are no different in when it comes to shredding plastics.
What are the main technical areas of interest and how are they being addressed?
An area that seems to be attracting increasing attention, is POPs – persistent organic pollutants, found in some WEEE.
Due to the specific physical and chemical properties of this substance, they can have a long-lasting impact on environmental and human health if not managed correctly during the waste disposal process. The Environment Agency’s updated guidance on POPs has caused ripples throughout the industry, but as is often the case, innovation is already driving change.
Interesting case studies and developments
Disruptive plastic recycler 3R Technology is a shining example of what’s possible in this space.
With more than 20 years’ experience – particularly in the Belgian market – its attention recently turned to the UK and the WEEE plastic processing challenge. The ambitious scrap handler has therefore invested in new technology to bolster its UK operations.
Approximately 2,000 tonnes of shredded small domestic appliance (SDA) plastics are being handled by the team every month, at their 5000m² warehouse in Preston.
Two UNTHA shredders lie at the heart of the cutting-edge plant. A single shaft UNTHA LRK plastic shredder processes PS fridge plastics, and a four shaft UNTHA RS40 with screen achieves a refined 30mm fraction after processing SDA mix. Particle homogeneity is ensured by both machines.
The post-shredded plastic is then transported via conveyor belt to the washing line with floating tank, to be cleaned and dried. ABS/PS and PP/PE material is then run through an electrostatic separator to create pure, high value ABS and PS flakes for remanufacturing.
But having rigorously tested the state-of-the-art processing line, 3R Technology is on the hunt for more material heading into next year and beyond, with the site capable of recycling various plastics, including flat-screen TV cases, computer monitor housings, and computer based peripherals.
The goal is to reach an annual processing milestone in excess of 5,000 tonnes this year, with plans to open two further plants in the South of England and Scotland, in the near future.
Speaking at the time of the installation, 3R Technology’s founder and CEO Yu Lin Wang, said: “The UK’s WEEE recycling capabilities are continuously improving. However, the focus is usually the processing of metallic content. We’re therefore partnering with WEEE and scrap metal handlers, to tackle the 50% mixed plastic that typically remains once redundant appliances have been shredded. This still has a significant resource value, which often isn’t realised in the UK.”
This is not 3R Technology’s first UNTHA investment.
“We use UNTHA at our Dutch plant too,” elaborated Mr Wang. “So, when it came to selecting the processing machinery for our UK facility – equipment that is easy to use, simple to maintain, and has an impressive capacity – we knew where to go.
“UNTHA shredders make the job of our downstream technology so much easier – we’re able to segregate a further 3-5% clean metal from the floating table which boosts our revenue stream. Our site is attracting a lot of attention, particularly on social media, so we’ll continue to be very vocal when it comes to what we can do. We even encourage people to come and take a look!”
3R Technology also has WEEE recycling facilities in Serbia and The Netherlands.