Collaboration key to ‘MRF of the future’

The commercial business director at Coventry city council says “collaboration” will be key to councils finding solutions for their recyclable materials in the future. 

The Coventry MRF will feature 14 SamurAI sorting robots provided by Machinex

Grant McKelvie spoke at the final session of the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee’s (LARAC) annual conference on 8 October on the development of Sherbourne Recycling’s in-house materials recycling facility (MRF) in Coventry. 

Sherbourne Recycling is a local authority-owned company established by Coventry and seven other councils to oversee the construction and operation of the 175,000 tonnes-per-year capacity MRF, which is set to open in 2023 (see letsrecycle.com story). 

“This is a project born out of eight local authorities coming together to deliver a better solution for our recyclate,” Mr McKelvie said. “If you’re going to hold all the risk, why not hold the benefits?” 

At the MRF, Mr McKelvie said, quality would be more important than quantity of throughput. As the project is run by local authorities, it is able to focus on the quality of the output rather than maximising profits. 

Grant McKelvie, commercial business director at Coventry city council

‘MRF of the future’

The “advanced” MRF has a “sophisticated AI core”, Mr McKelvie said, involving 14 robots. It is to be run on renewable energy and will be able to react to future challenges. 

Mr McKelvie said: “A MRF of the future starts by a local authority looking at what they want to achieve and then looking over their borders to see what synergies there are.” 

He added that Sherbourne Recycling was keen to explore opportunities to work with other local authorities. 

Waste processing  

Also speaking at the session was Ali Kemp, technical director at Wardell Armstrong, who spoke about the future of waste processing.  

Ali Kemp, technical director at Wardell Armstrong

Ms Kemp highlighted that it was important not to think about waste processing “in isolation” but to consider it with a range of other factors. 

Unless the sector does this, she warned, the system will not be comprehensive. 

She said: “You can’t think about waste processing in isolation, it depends on loads of other factors, for example, the collection of material. And of course and you can’t design a facility without thinking about the ouput. It’s a very integrated system.”  

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