Welcoming waste - a new milestone for Milton Keynes

25 November 2016
Image of an inside view of a recycling centre.

Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park has reached a new milestone – with black bag rubbish from local households now being taken into the new facility.

The waste will travel along over 1,300 metres of conveyor belts and through clever separating machinery to ensure recyclable and organic materials (which are accidentally left in the black bag waste) are extracted for reuse.

The belts and machines are part of the facility’s mechanical treatment technology, which is currently undergoing its final testing phases before Milton Keynes Waste Recovery Park (MKWRP) becomes fully operational in 2017.

MKWRP has been constructed by Amey on behalf of Milton Keynes Council and brings together three state-of-the-art technologies – mechanical treatment, anaerobic digestion and advanced thermal treatment – to both recycle and create energy from waste.

Amey’s Peter Waller said: “We first started work in 2014 so the testing of the mechanical treatment technology is a major step as we near the final stages of building MKWRP. The technology not only picks out any recyclable items, such as plastic bottles and metal cans, but it takes out food and biodegradable items too.

“The technology includes air knives which separate light items from heavy, as well as ballistic separators which sort flat items from those which roll around – helping it to recognise what type of waste its dealing with.

“It can also identify the difference between different plastics thanks to near infrared sorting technology, which will be able to process waste at up to seven tonnes per hour despite the plastics being dirty.”

When MKWRP is fully operational, the mechanical treatment technology will handle between 120,000 and 132,000 tonnes of waste per year and will extract at least 9% of this for recycling.

And the testing of the mechanical treatment technology is not the only milestone to be reached recently – Amey has undertaken a detailed commissioning of the anaerobic digestion part of the facility, which is now producing electricity.

Peter explained: “The fully enclosed anaerobic digester processes food and biodegradable items in large fermenters over 28 days to generate renewable energy. It’s already successfully producing electricity following its testing phases, as well as creating a compost-like material which will be available for use on brownfield sites.”

The final technology on site is advanced thermal treatment, where items which cannot be recycled will be used as a fuel to create renewable electricity. This technology is in the final stages of installation, prior to testing before MKWRP becomes fully operational next year.