Load cells at the centre of rubbish recycling

Published On: July 17 2017


We’ve probably all thought it at some stage – why can’t we use non-recyclable waste as fuel, rather than just dumping it into landfill?

A new plant in Derbyshire aims to do just that, by generating green electricity from household rubbish. The Sinfin site in Derby will feature a mechanical biological treatment plant, a recycling plant and a new gasification system to create energy from waste process. Resource Recovery Solutions (RRS) in a joint venture between Renewi and Interserve Group plc, the plant aims to divert up to 98% of household residual waste from landfill. 

Crucial to the efficient functioning of the plant is accurate measurement of of materials being put through the system. According to Let’s Recycle, throughout is measured;

“Via load cells on the grab cranes feeding the ACT. The load cells will be calibrated before and after the test period (using calibration weights that can be brought into the ACT Hall by lorry) to ensure accuracy of measurement.” 


Recycling metals and plastics

The plant is able to remove various materials from waste using a variety of processes. 

  • Almost 80% of all ferrous materials using overband magnets
  • Up to 74% of non-ferrous metals can be removed using eddy current separators
  • 72% of dense plastic materials can be detected and removed using Near Infra Reds

The biggest challenge for plastic recycling are non-detectable black coloured plastics, such as ready meal trays. 


Load cells and Pay as You Throw

Pay-as-You-Throw (PAYT) or Pay-by-Weight (PBW) has been hotly debated as a solution for cash-strapped local authorities to more accurately cost their waste management. However, the public perception that this is some sort of ‘stealth tax’ and the very real concerns that it might increase illegal fly tipping or burning of rubbish have meant that to date, no such policy has been introduced in the UK.

In an interesting move, manufacturers of waste collection vehicles are now installing on-board weighing systems at remarkably little cost. Previously, these systems were retrofitted, involving greater costs and taking the vehicle off the road. On new vehicle lifts, each lifter can have a weighing load cell installed that allows two or more bins to be weighed individually – and simultaneously. 


Big data on our bins

The information supplied by the load cell systems have wider implication that just the weight of a particular bin. Even if PAYT charging is not involved, the data ban be used to: 

  • Optimise collections by ensuring every vehicle is working to capacity
  • Analyse  costs down to a single road, block or even household
  • Target recycling and waste management messages more effectively
  • Support a reward-based scheme if pay-by-weight is not appropriate

Load cells have long been used in waste management, but we’re pleased to see the data wireless load cells can offer being used to help spread the word about better recycling. 


Load cells for waste management professionals

If you need to monitor, manage or improve your waste management data, give us a call. We design, manufacture and stock a wide range of wireless load cell systems, ideally suited for use on the road, at offsite locations or in your business premises. Call us with your requirements, or send us an email.