The company developing a 27,000 tonnes-per-year capacity fridge processing facility in the North East of England expects the plant to be operational in the coming weeks.
GAP Waste Management, the developer of the facility in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, claims that the “state-of-the-art” treatment line will bring additional capacity to the UK’s WEEE processing sector.
GAP, which also runs a logistics and haulage business says that the new facility will mainly absorb household and commercial fridges from the north east of England and parts of Scotland, with contracts already secured to supply the plant.
The fridge line complements GAP’s CRT recycling facility on the same site, which was opened in 2016. As well as display equipment and fridges, small WEEE items are also processed at the facility. In total the site is permitted to handle 90,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Commissioning of the fridge line, which includes depollution and shredding, is currently taking place having begun in November and is expected to be completed in the coming days.
Once fully operational the facility will add to existing fridge processing capacity in the UK which includes Viridor’s facilities at St Helens in the north west of England and Perth in Scotland, AO Recycling’s facility at Telford and Environcom at Grantham.
Equipment for the new plant has been provided by the WEEE processing specialist URT – in what is thought to be the German company’s first installation in the UK.
The recycling process will see fridges go through an initial degassing stage, before entering a low-speed high-torque shredder, after which the materials are separated and sorted for processing. The resulting materials are comprised of metals, plastics and insulation foam.
GAP is also installing an on-site processing line for the recovered plastics, which includes a floatation tank to separate the different grades of material, before it can then be passed through granulation and extrusion lines.
A process to pelletise the polyurethane foam from inside the fridges is also carried out.
Speaking to letsrecycle.com, Peter Moody, managing director of the GAP Group, commented that the plant will fill a gap in capacity for fridge processing in the wider north east region.
He said: “We pick up from areas like the Borders in Scotland and it is silly to take that down to Birmingham and the Midlands.
“We have gone from a situation two years ago where we couldn’t get fridges disposed of. This will create more capacity in the UK but we have got to be competitive.”
Around £5.7 million in funding has been secured from private equity firms SQN Capital Management UK, Bridge and York Capital Partners to finance the development of the new facility.