Tour “Waste Management at the MRF”

On Monday October 3, an MSSP fact finding tour of West Sussex’s Material Recycling Facility (MRF or “murph”), built for West Sussex CC at Ford by Viridor, and opened in 2009, shed much needed light on blue bin kerbside recycling.

A sunny day but the beach has to wait for the Mid Sussex team

The facility sorts and separates materials collected throughout West Susssex, ready for recycyling. The sorting plant is mainly automatic and works at its best when it has the correct materials passing through it, so everyone needs to play their part to get the most out of this facility.

Q: What are people most confused about, when it comes to what goes in a Mid Sussex blue bin? A:The types of plastic you can or cannot put in  your blue bin, Plastic recycling is complex. Here in Mid Sussex you can put any plastic bottle in (lid off, empty and rinsed out), but if its not a bottle, leave it out, even if it has a “recycle” sign on.

Clean, dry and loose please! The better the quality of the materials collected for recycling (clean, dry, loose and correct items) the better the value for money the service can provide.

Clean – Please do rinse your food cans and pop them in your blue recycling bin. Pet owners take note – rinsed out pet food tins are much easier to recover here than when consigned, unwashed, to landfill.

Dry – If your recycling gets wet, the paper and cardboard become soggy, preventing their being recycled. This is because during the processing at the MRF wet paper and cardboard tend to stick to the machinery, clogging up the system. If glass sticks to any wet paper and cardboard, it cannot be recycled. So, if you have large cardboard boxes that won’t fit in the bin, please wait for a dry day to put them out for collection.

Loose – It’s very common for people in Mid Sussex to sort out their recycling correctly but then to fasten it up in a plastic bag before placing in the blue bin. Plastic bags cannot be opened at the MRF, or recycled. And sadly early experience found health risks to employees, and contamination risks to genuine recyclables, when efforts were made to open bags by hand – nappies and food left overs do get bagged up and put in the wrong bin.

Problems we witnessed on our tour

We saw strips of cassette tapes hanging down from the conveyor belts. So please don’t put tapes in your blue bin. Shredded paper is also a problem at the MRF – difficult to handle and if mixed up with the glass, then the glass cannot be recycled. You can put shredded paper in  Aylesford’s large blue bins as this goes straight to the paper mill for recycling, without getting mixed up with other materials.

Top tip for home recycling – don’t forget the bathroom!

Many people make hugh efforts in the kitchen to remove lids and rinse empty plastic bottles, but overlook possibilities upstairs. Shampoo bottles, shaving foam cans, and carefully rinsed out bleach bottles are all welcome to.

From bottles to? 

Don’t put us in the blue bin!

MSSP Chair David Smith asking how we can help

Children’s toys like the duck and boats pictured can be made from recyled bottles, along with gutters and fleeces. The number one use is – you guessed it – new plastic bottles.

80% of Ford’s recyclables were found a UK market in September and new market opportunites are constantly explored, with any income split between Viridor and the partnership of WSCC and the District and Borough Councils.

For other types of plastic – bottle lids, punnets, yoghurt tubs and toys – a lucrative enough end market does not yet exist to support their recycling on a county wide scale. However you may find a church or charity near your home whose collection schemes you could support.

For more on how this waste will be kept out of landfill from 2013, read about our Brookhurst Wood tour below.

Seeing it for ourselves

We watched 89 separate conveyor belts in action, which can handle 18 tonnes per hour (82,000 per year), baling 10 distinct end products. The technology is certainly impressive, but we wouldn’t like to overlook the invaluable contribution made by the 26 staff who work each shift in their ear protectors, dust masks and high vis jackets.

Thank you – we appreciate what you do for us!

Thank you to Jen and Hannah for our eye opening, ear protected tour.


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