Throughout Nottinghamshire the items you place in your recycling bin at home are sent to Veolia's Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to be sorted. This includes all of your paper, cardboards, plastic bottles and metal tins!
The facility processes around 350 tonnes of recyclables every day and is operated by Veolia who manage Nottinghamshire's Waste Management on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council.
The MRF uses various techniques from hand picking to hi-tech machinery to sort the mixed recyclable materials that are in your silver bin. Once the materials have been sorted they can be sent to manufacturers and re-processors to be made into new items.
How does it work?
The hi-tech and complex process that takes place at the MRF operates on weekdays from 6am until midnight.
- Tipping Hall - recycling lorries deliver all of the waste collected from your silver bin to the MRF and empty it in the tipping hall. This waste is then moved onto a conveyor to begin the process
- Pre-sort cabins - here the waste is sifted by hand to remove any large, bulky items such as boxes that may prevent the machinery from identifying small non-recyclables
- Trommels - these 2 large drums, each weighing over 70 tonnes, help sort the different materials by passing them over various sized holes
- Fines screen - this machine helps sort small non-recyclable items for residual waste. Any items that are considered non-recyclable are sent through the process again to ensure all recyclable materials are re-used
- Ferrous metal magnet - this large magnet collects magnetic metals that can be recycled
- Eddy Current Separator - this machine collects non-magnetic metals such as aluminium cans
- Optical plastic sorters - these 5 machines identify different types of materials and separate them ready for baling
- Paper container cabins - here staff do a final check of the processed materials to ensure there are no non-recyclable materials
- Baler - throughout the day each of the materials are sent through the baler to be compressed into bales ready for delivery to the re-processor
This whole process takes around 15 minutes for each item to move from start to finish.
What can't be sorted at the MRF?
Veolia's MRF was designed to sort a wide range of recyclables all of which can be found in the Are you Bin Smart Guide (PDF File, 529kb).
However, as the facility is unable to process certain materials we ask that you do not include the following items in your silver bin:
- Glass bottles - these items cannot be processed at the MRF but you can recycle them by taking the items to your local recycling centre or 'bring' sites at local supermarkets
- Plastic lids from bottles and containers - lids can cause problems when sorting the materials at the facility as they are small and fall through holes in the first sorting stage. The plastic they are made from is also non-recyclable. Please remove lids from plastic bottles and place them in your general waste bin but don't forget to recycle the bottle itself!
- Metal lids - again these small lids can cause problems when they are being sorted and are often coated in plastic to make the lids airtight which prevents them from being recycled
- TetraPaks - TetraPaks are difficult to recycle as they are made from various bonded materials. Please ensure these items are placed in your general waste bin or taken to a TetraPak bring site.
- Foil and foil trays - foil materials are often thin and cannot be recycled by processors as the metal cannot be extracted, the trays have often contained food and can contaminate other recyclable materials. Please try to re-use foil items at home and dispose of them in your general waste bin
- Soft plastics - these materials are difficult to recycle as they cannot be melted down easily, they also cause problems during the sorting process as they catch on belts and rollers which stop the sorting machinery working
- Plastic trays - these cannot be recycled due to the various types and colours of plastics that are used and they are often contaminated with food, you can limit the amount of plastic trays you use by purchasing items with minimal packaging
- General rubbish - items such as crisp packets, plant pots, cling film, coat hangers, nappies, polystyrene and food etc should be placed in your general waste bin as these materials cannot be recycled
Contamination is when the wrong items are put into your recycling bin. There are two types of contamination:
- When something which cannot be recycled is placed in your silver bin
- When items such as a pizza box with traces of food on it contaminates other items, especially paper, meaning they can no longer be recycled
Contamination can cause many problems at the recycling facility; and occasionally whole loads of recyclable waste have to be rejected as they are so badly contaminated.
The amount of contaminated recycling across Nottinghamshire is rising and we need to ensure we are doing our bit to help reduce this number. Firstly you should familiarise yourself with what items can or cannot go in your silver bin and also ensure that all recyclable items that have come into contact with food are thoroughly washed out to remove all traces of food spoils.
If you require any more information on the recycling process, what happens behind the scenes at the Materials Recovery Facility and for information on open days and tours visit Veolia's website.