Viridor invests £1 million in new HDPE sorting station

Waste management firm Viridor has invested over £1 million in a new flake optical sorting station for its high-density polyethylene (HDPE) line in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.

The new kit at the company’s polymer recycling facility will reportedly increase the yield of ‘natural’ (blow mould grade) HDPE for colour-critical applications (such as producing new plastic bottles) from 300 tonnes to 500 tonnes a month.

Installed in ‘early 2014’, the flake sorter utilises two optical sorters which can remove ‘non-natural’ HDPE flakes (typically between two millimetres (mm) and 12mm in size), from the stream at a throughput rate of two tonnes per hour.

The optical sorting station, supplied by technology firm Bühler Sortex, can produce ‘high purity natural HDPE’ and a coloured HDPE that can be compounded into black pellet. It is reportedly able to cope with ‘dramatic fluctuations in inputs as required, whilst keeping the output consistent’.

Speaking of the sorting station, Stuart Kershaw, Trading Sales Manager for Plastics at Viridor, said: “The investment in this advanced flake sorting station came as a result of a UK market requirement for a consistent volume of HDPE natural compound. This can be used for a variety of colour critical extrusion/blow moulding applications, including but not limited to conduit, sheet, wood polymer composite and bottles. 

“We are now producing 500 tonnes of the HDPE natural product each month, adding to the volumes of HDPE black and PET clear flake.”

Kershaw added that Viridor hopes the expansion of its polymer sorting equipment will help meet the company’s aim of “reduc[ing] export reliance with a focus on providing high-quality polymer for use within the demanding UK market”.

Gary Welsh, General Manager at Viridor’s polymer recycling facility, added: “Advanced recycling facilities such as the plant at Skelmersdale require continuous review to meet the demands of a changing market for quality recyclate products. This new piece of equipment is changing what we do as a business and adding to our product range so that we can flex to meet the needs of our customers.”

Find out more about Viridor.