Materials separation and recovery – Trafford Park
Stage one of our operation happens at our Trafford Park Shredder Waste Advanced Processing Plant (SWAPP). SWAPP has been recognised as one of the most advanced operations of its type in Europe. At SWAPP, we receive the residue after scrap vehicles have been through the shredder at two large scale recycling plants in the north west of England. The shredding process separates out most metal for recycling, with wheels, tyres, batteries, catalytic converters and liquids being removed as part of the depollution process. This means the shredder residue is made up largely of plastics, alongside some stone, glass, textile materials and remaining small fragments of metal.
We then put this residue through a series of cleaning and separation processes. These processes use a variety of techniques to separate materials based on physical properties, including size, density, and weight. By the end, the material has been sorted into three categories: a plastic-rich fraction suitable for further refining, aggregates for use in construction, and a solid recovered fuel that can be used to replace fossil fuels. The plastic-rich fraction is sent to our Salford plant for further processing and recycling, while processing for the aggregates and fuels is completed at SWAPP.
SWAPP was originally commissioned in 2010, and upgraded in 2014 to cope with increased demand. It can now process up to 200,000 tonnes of shredder residue each year. Supplementing the processes already in place for recycling scrap vehicle metal, SWAPP makes it possible for vehicle manufacturers to achieve the UK government target of recycling or recovering 95% of the materials contained within end-of-life vehicles.
Reprocessing – Salford
When the mixed plastic material arrives at our Salford plant, we separate out the different types of polymer using over 20 sorting and separation technologies. We also complete the final refining process, removing minor traces of metal, rubber and other non-plastics.
Once we’re satisfied with the purity of an individual polymer batch, it enters the extrusion stage of our advanced processing system. The plastic chips are blended with any additives required for the compound formulation, then melted and mixed under high pressure in the extruder barrel. Finally, the hot plastic mixture is continuously melt filtered to produce extremely high-quality Axpoly® polymer. Tests at every stage guarantee consistency within each batch and between batches of the same product.
The end product is a range of top quality polymers used as a replacement for virgin in complex moulding applications ranging from drainage goods to components for the automotive industry. Transforming end-of-life vehicles into parts for new ones, the latter example is the perfect illustration of the circular economy in action.