Cambridge University has invested in a state-of-the-art materials recovery facility (MRF) that it claims will boost its recycling rates from 50% to 80%. In a statement, the university explains that the pioneering new system will use precision technology to sort recyclable materials without the need for extra bins.
In fact, throughout the university estate, there will be a choice of just two bins: one for food waste and one for dry mixed waste. The waste will be collected and sorted with advanced precision tools to reduce the possibility of contamination.
Food waste will be processed at an anaerobic digestion facility that can convert it into energy, and dry mixed waste will be further sorted for recycling purposes at an MRF equipped with state-of-the-art technology. This includes 22 miles of conveyor belts, 2D and 3D scanners, and infra-red separators.
The MRF is operated by Mountain Recycling, who will be using fully electric vehicles to make the waste collections. In a statement, the university added: “In another UK-first, the university’s stock of new wheelie bins are made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic collected from the local area. These bins can be recycled a further 10 times.”
Steve Matthews, Facilities Management Operations Manager, said: “The University of Cambridge is committed to exceptional environmental performance. The new system will allow us to recycle far more materials than before which will make a positive contribution to protecting the environment.”
Abigail Johnson, Director of Mountain Recycling, the waste recycling company the University is working with, said: “As a team we’re extremely proud to have been selected as a supplier to the University.”
She added: “Mountain Recycling’s innovative sorting technology is a win-win, providing an easy way for bin users to recycle, and an improvement in the amount of resources that can be recycled.” Cambridge University claim that they are the first UK Higher Education Institution to use such an advanced recycling system.
Elsewhere, another cutting-edge MRF is due to open in the West Midlands this summer. Sherbourne Resource Park (SRP) in Coventry will be equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to help sort materials for recycling. Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council will jointly run the facility with eight other councils.
In a statement, the council explains that SRP will be able to handle a far wider range of materials at a volume of 175,000 tonnes per year. Furthermore, the new technology will dispense with the need for separate recycling bins, and residents will be able to place all the recyclable materials in one bin for kerbside collection from this autumn.
Layla Shannon, Sherbourne Recycling Business Manager, said: “Supported by AI the robotic units offer major advantages because they can identify and pick out different types of recyclable material present, while effectively learning from their experiences to make them more efficient.”
She added: “This innovative approach also future-proofs the facility, as the equipment can be programmed to target new materials, keeping track with waste markets and regulatory changes.”
The new SRP facility has been described as a blueprint for future MRF schemes in the UK.
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