UNTHA shredder advances Geocycle’s Spanish co-processing strategy

Global waste management specialist Geocycle – a 100% daughter company of cement manufacturer LafargeHolcim – is pushing ahead with its worldwide co-processing strategy, with the investment in new shredding technology for its Spanish operation.

Geocycle has commissioned an XR3000C shredder supplied by UNTHA Iberica, for use at its Albox (Almeria) facility. The machine will now help transform 15,000 tonnes of hazardous solid waste per annum, into pre-treated waste with the right granulometry for coprocessing in cement kilns.

This “co-processing” is unique as it closes the loop of waste materials by optimizing its use [1] (energy and mineral content) in the manufacturing kiln to produce a new material – cement.

The waste treatment firm has a long and strong experience in co-processing, with the global team managing over 10 million tonnes of waste – including MSW, sewage sludge, tires and contaminated soils – every year, worldwide, on existing cement production sites.

The new shredding line means Geocycle can now convert nationally-produced commercial and industrial waste – including oil/solvent contaminated textiles, plastics, paper and cardboard – into co-processing-ready materials for use at one of LafargeHolcim’s five Spanish cement plants. Producers were previously sending these complex non-recyclable wastes to landfill.

Commenting on the new shredding line, Geocycle’s Operation Manager Raúl Lannegrand said: “Co-processing is recognised by the UNEP Basel Convention and the European Commision as a practical, cost-efficient, safe and environmentally-preferred waste treatment method, so it was important for us to make the most of the landfill diversion opportunity we had identified in Spain.

“Now, while working towards a more circular economy for our clients, we can also reduce the CO2 footprint of our plants and move towards less fossil dependent manufacturing.”

Keen to prioritise the safe processing of this low flash point solid waste, Geocycle adjusts the speed of its flexible UNTHA shredder according to the materials being handled at any given point. Outputs therefore typically range from 4-8 tonnes per hour, with a homogenous particle size of <45-80mm, depending on the specification of the final cement plant. A quick-change cutter system prevents operational disruption when the machine needs to be reconfigured to handle Geocycle’s different applications.

“The flexibility of the shredder was not the only selling point for the UNTHA XR,” continued Raúl Lannegrand.

“The low speed but high torque drive of this energy-efficient machine really stood out to us. UNTHA has engineered high-performance yet safe, economical and environmentally-robust technology that mirrors the sustainable ethos of what we’re trying to achieve, while satisfying the difficult brief we have set.

“We were also impressed by the low maintenance costs and low noise.”

The news marks more than 10 UNTHA shredders now in operation on a Geocycle site globally. More than 9,000 UNTHA machines have now been installed for organisations worldwide.

[1] :  the waste simultaneously brings the energy that is required for the production process (enabling the substitution of fossil fuels) and useful minerals that are fully integrated in the final product (enabling the substitution of primary mineral materials).

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