Viridor has invested £3.7m in enhanced paper purity and fire protection systems at its Crayford Materials Recycling Facility near Dartford.
The Crayford MRF receives 300,000 tonnes of co-mingled content from 28 local authorities each year.
Crayford MRF, through extensive mechanical recovery and manual quality controls, processes large volumes of municipal and commercial dry mixed materials (paper, card, plastic bottles, cans and glass) to produce a range of high quality recyclable outputs.
This is a key site for processing recyclable material for a range of customers in the South East and is the largest of Viridor’s materials recycling operations which extend across the UK.
Viridor’s Head of Recycling Assets, Colin Richardson, said the £2.7 million project was an investment in quality – it will support the plant’s paper lines targeting the reduction of contamination levels within the fibre outputs.
Mr Richardson said: “This will be achieved by specifically targeting contaminates in the sorted Mixed Paper (SMP) after processing from the ballistic separator lines.”
He said that, from 1 January 2018, sorted Mixed Paper was banned from import to China but No.8 (a more refined paper grade with higher levels of News and Pams compared to that of No.7 Mixed Paper), was still permitted into China, subject to very strict quality criteria.
Crayford produces c.140ktpa of combined paper grades, of which nearly all has historically been marketed to China.
This project reinforces Viridor’s drive on quality, and involves the installation of two optical sorters into a new building adjoining Crayford’s main MRF. Additional screening, metal removal and quality controls will also be installed.
“The new Helios fire protection and water cannon system is focused on the storage areas for incoming materials and this is considered the most likely source of any potential fires.”
In addition to the paper purity project, Mr Richardson said Viridor had invested close to £1 million in a new state-of-the-art fire protection and water cannon system at Crayford, which will cover multiple storage areas and site infrastructure.
He said: “The new Helios fire protection and water cannon system is focused on the storage areas for incoming materials and this is considered the most likely source of any potential fires.
“Helios makes use of two proprietary technologies, a thermal detection system, which in this case constantly scans within the waste pile for signs of temperature increase and automatically operated turrets (cannons) designed to target the hotspot (rather than a sprinkler system which will deluge a larger area).
“The turrets discharge water with an environmentally-friendly additive which penetrates the waste pile to cool the affected material and seal off the potential ignition spread. The fire service can override the automated system and manually direct fire-fighting efforts if required.”
The system is now fully commissioned and part of the key investment programme at Crayford MRF.