Met David Bumstead (Viridor plant manager) & JP Manfrinato (Tangle Teezer)
Firstly the hierarchy of plastic waste
- Households Collection to MRF’s (Material Recovery facilities). These are financed by the Councils albeit Viridor, Veolia, Suez & Biffa operate them. They make money by selling mixed plastic to the PERF’s or Exporting (PERN).
- Mixed Plastic to the PERF’s ( Plastic Recovery Facilities). These are owned independently and make money by buying from the MRF’s and selling to the Re-processors or Exporting (PERN).
- Re-processors, owned independently and make money by buying from the PERF’s and selling to the Extruders (New plastic). They can take advantage of the PRN system as an extra income.
Viridor take most of their mixed plastic from the MRF’s (8% from households) and then sort into the following categories, PET natural, PET Jazz, HDPE natural & Jazz, Polyprop, PET Trays, High Impact PS. David claims to do a 95% or better sort. The near infra- red sorters do a perfect job, it is the mechanical blowing that is less than perfect ( once the NIR sorters have done their job it tells the computer to mechanical blow each of the categories mentioned above onto different conveyors). The natural PET is in much demand by the UK re-processors and is sold profitably. This is where most of our PET would go! The PET Jazz would be sold abroad to the garment industry. Our printed PET would follow this route. The trick is for us is to keep the print down to a minimum to allow the NIR sorters to sort our packaging into the natural bales that would end up being re-processed in the UK.
PVC & PS is considered to be rubbish and is either landfilled or burnt. Cardboard windowed cartons are a problem and also find their way into landfill. The windows have to be taken out! Bio-polymers are a potential problem as well. Not much testing has been done on how the NIR sorters would react to a Bio-polymer. It could be , if they are clear, they could end in the PET natural stream which would be a disaster as they would contaminate the eventual PET sheet, making it go brown (melt points much lower than PET)!