tomra stadler mrf
Stadler and Tomra worked together to equip an upgraded Viridor MRF in the United Kingdom.
Photo provided by Tomra Sorting Recycling.

Tomra, Stadler combine to provide Viridor MRF system

Sorting technology firms work together to equip Viridor’s Mason’s MRF near Ipswich, England.

December 16, 2020

The Stadler UK Ltd. business unit of Germany-based Stadler Anlagenbau GmbH has led a 15.4 million pound ($20.7 million) project to upgrade the Masons Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) near Ipswich, Suffolk, United Kingdom, that is operated by Viridor. In 2019, when it sought bids for the project, U.K.-based Viridor specified sensor sorting devices made Germany-based Tomra Sorting Recycling’s in its tender documentation.

The modernization of the facility is part of a 10-year Viridor-Suffolk County Council contract renewal. Viridor runs the MRF on behalf of the Suffolk Waste Partnership.

Viridor says the upgrade allows it to increase capacity from 65,000 metric tons per year to 75,000 (equivalent to 17 metric tons per hour). The plant is now operating at full capacity and at what the equipment firms call optimum processing levels.

Having already worked together on several projects around the world, Stadler and Tomra say they worked in close collaboration from the earliest stages of the project to ensure the plant and equipment meet Viridor’s requirements.

The Mason MRF’s infeed material is commingled dry mixed recyclables (not including glass) from Suffolk County Council. The material is first processed using new mechanical separation equipment, including a dosing drum, a Stadler PPK ballistic separator, a screening drum, Stadler STT 2000 ballistic separators, overhead magnets and eddy current separators.

Following mechanical separation, the material (apart from fiber) goes through an air separation process before arriving at the newly installed Tomra AutoSort optical sensor-based sorting units.

Prior to the upgrade, three Tomra optical sorters were already in place at the MRF. These were replaced by 11 new AutoSort units. The new units have been programmed to sort and recover mixed fiber (cardboard, mixed paper and newspapers and pamphlets), and to sort mixed plastics by polymer into different streams of plastic. Those streams include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), hard plastics, films, pots, tubs and trays.

Says Derek Edwards, Viridor’s recycling director, “This is by far the largest investment in a U.K. MRF in recent years. Viridor is heavily focused on developing opportunities to put quality recycling materials back into the economy where they belong. This starts with viewing waste as a resource, rather than rubbish, and, thanks to Suffolk’s commitment to recycling, and our investment in the Masons MRF, we are well-positioned to make the most of the county’s recycling opportunities and to sell that material onto U.K.-based end customers.”

Adds Edwards, “The Masons investment plan has been specifically designed not only to achieve greater capacity but to match its output quality with market requirements. The plant has the same infeed material as before, but can now cope with an additional 10,000 metric tons of material per annum. We’re delighted with the performance of the plant and its equipment since the upgrade was completed.”

Remarks Steven Walsh, a sales engineer at Tomra Sorting Recycling, “We were delighted to work with Stadler on this project, having already worked with them on a number of other projects nationally and internationally. Prior to the refurb, this Viridor site could only sort mixed plastics for further processing at [a nearby plastics recycling facility, or PRF], and it was extremely manual sorting focused, with hand sorting used for all cardboard and refined paper grades. Now, though, Masons is among the most highly automated plants in the U.K., [and] Viridor can capture superior quality materials ready to feed back into the circular economy.”

Benjamin Eule, a director at Stadler UK Ltd., comments, “Our role was to decommission the existing plant and supply and install a full turnkey solution for the newly upgraded plant. It was one of the quickest turnarounds we’ve ever worked on. The installation – including demolition of the old equipment – took 80 days in total. We installed new steel work, conveyors and all electrical components required for the process. We also managed both the cold and hot commissioning processes.”

Tomra Sorting Recycling is part of Norway-based Tomra Systems ASA.