Viridor installs equipment to boost HDPE production, quality

U.K. firm spends more than £1 million to increase the yield of HDPE plastics.

May 21, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Plastics

The U.K.-based firm Viridor has invested more than £1million (US$1.7 million) in an advanced flake optical sorting station on the HDPE line at its polymer recycling facility in Skelmersdale, U.K. The company’s investment in new processing technology has allowed the facility to increase the yield of HDPE's natural' (blow mold grade) for color-critical applications.

Viridor Polymer Recycling’s Skelmersdale facility recycles 3,000 metric tons of plastic bottles each month into plastic pellets and flakes. The company says that the installation of the new technology, completed in early 2014, will help Viridor maintain its position as a leading recyclers of plastic bottles in the U.K.

The new flake sorter centers around two optical sorters that accurately remove non-natural HDPE flakes; typically between 2mm and 12mm in size, in the HDPE product stream at a throughput rate of 2 metric tons per hour. The optical sorting station was supplied by the equipment company Bühler Sortex, which supplied other technology at the recycling facility. The equipment produces a high purity natural HDPE and a colored HDPE that can be compounded into black pellet.

In a press release, Stuart Kershaw, Viridor’s trading sales manager, says, “The investment in this advanced flake sorting station came as a result of a U.K. market requirement for a consistent volume of HDPE natural compound. This can be used for a variety of color critical extrusion/blow molding applications, including but not limited to conduit, sheet, wood polymer composite and bottles.

“We are now producing 500 metric tons of the HDPE natural product each month, adding to the volumes of HDPE black & PET clear flake,” Kershaw adds.

Gary Welsh, general manager at Viridor’s polymer recycling facility adds, “Advanced recycling facilities such as the plant at Skelmersdale require continuous review to meet the demands of a changing market for quality recyclate products. This new piece of equipment is changing what we do as a business and adding to our product range so that we can flex to meet the needs of our customers.”

Alex Vaks, sales engineer at Bühler Ltd., says, “We seamlessly integrated Bühler’s most advanced optical sorting technology into Viridor’s operation, meeting their exacting needs for a highly flexible system. The leading edge optical sorting station is able to cope with dramatic fluctuations in inputs as required; whilst keeping the output consistent. We are excited to be building upon our existing strong relationship with Viridor and contributing to their success as leaders in the rapidly developing high quality recycling market.”