31 January 2019 by Joshua Doherty

North Devon seeks MRF investment

North Devon council may invest up to £760,000 in its Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) to improve efficiency of the plant.

The council said in a report ahead of a meeting on Monday (4 February), when the spending will be discussed, that funds are needed to upgrade equipment at the Brynsworthy Environment Centre which is struggling to cope with volumes of material collected for recycling.

The processing hall at the Brynsworthy Environment Centre

According to North Devon council, the issue has become pressing following a move to a three-weekly residual waste service in parts of the borough 2017, which has led to higher volumes of material entering the MRF.

Launched in a number of areas of the borough in May 2017, the council’s ‘Recycle More’ service sees weekly collections of food waste, alongside weekly brown bag collections of cardboard, green bag collections for paper and glass, aluminium and plastic bottles and PTT collected via a box.

Material is taken to the Brynsworthy recycling facility where it sorted and baled for onward processing.


According to the report, improvements to the council’s recycling infrastructure would be needed, should the council wish to roll out the Recycle More service across a wider geographical area.

In particular, the report notes that the existing Process Hall equipment is “beyond its useful life and is unable to cope” with the current level of demand.

The site has three existing balers – which are fed by conveyers. According to the council, “breakdowns and stoppages are now a regular feature adding further pressure to an already over stretched service”.

Additionally, the report suggests that the existing conveyers are too narrow for ‘current and future purposes’ and would need to be upgraded in order to handle a larger throughput of material.

“With the rise in materials collected and the increase proposed the existing processing facility is not adequate. The existing equipment is now past its proposed life and replacement is required,” the report suggests.

The Brynsworthy Environment Centre was built in 2010 and cost around £7.5 million (see letsrecycle.com story)


Recommendations include configuring the facility’s process hall to incorporate new bulk storage bays to hold separated plastics, steel, aluminium and cardboard.

This would be augmented by a bulk storage bay for mixed materials that would be loaded onto floor level conveyors, taking the materials though a series of magnets to capture steel and eddy-current separators to separate aluminium.

North Devon has trialled a reduced frequency for its refuse collections

Separated materials could then be forwarded on individually to a twin-ram auto banding baler. Overhead gantries with picking stations would also need to be included.

According to the report, investment would result in a reduction in baler operatives within the process hall from three to four, and would also mean reduced transport costs due to an ability to bale cardboard on the site, which is currently sent out loose. This would allow 18-20 tonnes of cardboard to be sent out per load, instead of 3-5 tonnes as at present, the report suggests.

Subject to Members approving the recommendations of this report it is proposed that a soft procurement exercise be undertaken in April 2019 with the full procurement process then following in May 2019.

Following the award of contract the installation date will be agreed with the chosen contractor and it is envisaged that the plant and equipment will be installed by October 2019, where testing will then be undertaken before the plant goes fully live at operating speed by the end of October 2019.

North Devon recorded a 1% jump in its recycling rate in 2017/18, which currently sits at 45.5%. The council generated a total of around 7,500 tonnes of dry recycling during that time, Defra data suggests.

MRF & Markets Conference

7 February 2019 – National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull

letsrecycle.com is running a one-day conference looking at the future of MRFs and the latest developments in the recycling markets.

Click here for more details and to book your place.


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