Sensor-based sorting equipment from TOMRA Sorting helps boost material throughput and recovery rates at Amgen Cymru Materials Recovery Centre

A £12 million plant refurb and investment in new equipment from TOMRA Sorting has helped boost material recovery rates and has doubled capacity at the Amgen Cymru Materials Recovery Centre, which is based in the town of Aberdare in the Cynon Valley area of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The facility, which is the largest dry mixed recycling plant in Wales, is owned and operated by Amgen Cymru, the Local Authority Waste Disposal Company owned by the Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council. It reopened in November 2019 following completion of the large-scale refurb project.  

Amgen Cymru appointed Blue Group, the UK’s leading supplier of materials handling equipment for the recycling industry, to redesign the plant and manage the refurb project. Blue Group, who have worked with TOMRA Sorting on several projects over the past four years, recommended the installation of seven TOMRA AUTOSORT units as part of the upgrade. The units combine near infrared (NIR) and visual spectrometers (VIS) to accurately and quickly recognise and separate different materials according to their material type and colour, extracting high-purity high-value end fractions. Six of the AUTOSORT units incorporate LOD technology (Laser Object Detection) for detecting black plastics, while two have EM3 sensors for metal detection.  

Prior to the refurb, Amgen Cymru relied heavily on manual handpicking, with ballistic separators, two magnets and eddy currents being the only mechanical elements used. Now, with the new TOMRA AUTOSORT units in place, Amgen Cymru is able to achieve high recovery and high purity rates of Soft Mixed Paper (SMP), Hard Mixed Paper (HMP), mixed plastics (HDPE, PET, PS and LDPE), PE Film, ferrous and non-ferrous content, fines and textiles.

The investment in the new equipment has doubled the plant’s previous capacity and it is now operating at 65,000 tonnes per annum.

Material recovery rates have risen to 80% and purity rates of at least 97% are being consistently achieved across the targeted materials prior to the final manual quality check.

Tom Rutherford, Project and Applications Manager at Blue Group, comments: “TOMRA Sorting is undoubtedly the market leader for sensor-based sorting solutions and has been our preferred technology partner for the past four years.  Their back up support is second to none and we know we can consistently rely on their machines. When designing our plants, we test all of the material through TOMRA’s systems and those of other suppliers so we knew what recovery rates we could achieve with TOMRA’s industry-leading equipment. TOMRA was also the only supplier that could deliver black plastic recycling to the level we wanted to achieve. The TOMRA LOD units in this plant are the first to be installed in the UK and they are performing exceptionally well.” 

Ian McAlister, Operations Manager at Amgen Cymru, adds: “When working with Blue Group on the design for the refurbishment of the plant we tested a number of systems and equipment from different suppliers. Our contacts at Blue Group introduced us to TOMRA Sorting and we were immediately very impressed by their systems. TOMRA was able to guarantee high-performance across both recovery and purity rates which gave us the confidence that they were the right technology provider for the plant.  With the TOMRA kit in place alongside the other equipment at the facility, we’re now achieving purity rates of at least 97% on our material before our final manual quality check. As a result, when the market recovers from its current flat period, we’re confident we’ll be able to attract higher prices for our recovered material.

Gavin Russell, Sales Engineer at TOMRA Sorting Recycling, concludes: “We are delighted that Blue Group chose us as their technology supplier for this large-scale upgrade project at the Amgen Cymru Materials Recovery Centre. Our latest generation TOMRA AUTOSORT units are capable of achieving unparalleled purity levels and it’s great news that Amgen Cymru is already reaping the benefits, both in terms of increased throughput, and significantly higher recovery rates while achieving enhanced material purity.”

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