The Wastecycle facility in Nottingham is the destination of a lot of waste produced at Loughborough University. Members of the Centre for SMART toured Wastecycle on the 30th of July to learn more about the processes used to keep our waste out of landfill.
Wastecycle is committed to a zero waste to landfill strategy. They do this by working with waste producers and by finding sustainable markets for secondary materials. They process more than 450,000 tonnes of material each year, 90% of which is recycled and recovered. Wastecycle does not own or operate a landfill facility so their incentive is to recycle and recover as much material as possible to minimise costs.
Loughborough University produces almost 2000 tonnes of waste per year (excluding construction waste) and at present only 50% on average of this is recycled on site. At least 25% more could be recycled by staff, students and our tenants which would make it easier to sort the remaining waste and help divert it from landfill.
The people who hand-sort our waste
Although many waste recovery processes are automated and use advanced sensors for sorting, at this time they still cannot replace manual labour completely. Experience and judgement are relied on for selecting the processing technology for a particular load of waste, and the visual acuity of workers is continuously tested to identify items the automation failed to recognise.
The manual separation of items is a tough job and the workers on the picking line should be commended for their efforts as the last line in quality control. They are a vital element in the sorting process, ensuring the final products are of the best quality for the market.
Help make their job easier
Large items and items that are placed in the incorrect recycling receptacle cause problems. If the machines do not recognise an item, a human has to tear open the bag or remove heavy or inappropriate items. Metal embedded in objects must also be removed. For this reason old mattresses and vehicle tyres are very difficult to recycle. Batteries mixed with other recyclables can cause damage to the machines or even start a fire.
Wherever you are, please don’t act like your waste is not your problem. At home, at work, or on holiday, make an effort to recycle and use the correct receptacles when doing so. Every little bit we can do to make companies such as Wastecycle more feasible will help minimise landfills and keep our planet sustainable and green for future generations.
Loughborough University Waste Guidance Notes are available to aid recycling and segregation and can be found at:
If you have any queries on waste and recycling then you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Wastecycle, please visit https://www.wastecycle.co.uk/materials-recycling-facilities/