A Sleaford area recycling business has opened its doors to the public as it bids to expand its operations to cope with a growing market.
Mid UK Recycling held the open day last Friday for local residents and neighbours to look around their 25-acre Barkston Heath site to gain a better understanding of what they do and explain their 10-year plan for the future in which the family firm hope to expand by another 20 acres, employing an additional 200 people to the 400 already employed.
Part of this is down to the need for additional storage space under new fire regulations which was seen as even more important after a major fire in July which caused disruption to local roads, burning for over a week.
A new filtration lagoon would catch water run off and allow for water to be recycled by firefighters. Hoses have also been installed throughout the site, along with concrete dividers and sprinkler systems.
Managing Director Chris Mountain said: “The problem with the waste industry is nobody really wants us here but everybody generates waste and it needs to be processed. The industry has been landfill-based but now it is about products.”
To that end the company, which started in 1994, has invested in its own purpose-built workshops, designers and laboratories to develop and quality-control a range of recycled products. These range from cat litter, cement curing agents and oil spill absorbants from granulated plasterboard, to Solid Recovered Fuel to power cement works from compressed rubbish and waste carpets which also have all the backing and metal fragments filtered out and recycled. That way, nothing has to go to landfill.
Companies like us are innovative and create solutions to the problems.Chris Mountain, MD of Mid UK Recycling
They have capabilities to provide up to 250,000 tonnes of SRF a year, but the expansion would increase that to 350,000 tonnes. They are the largest independent producer of SRF in the UK and export to countries like Portugal and Denmark.
The extracted plastic is also shredded down to crumbs to be shipped to companies specialising in reclaimed plastic.
They also have a number of contracts with local councils and businesses to recycle household and commercial ‘dry’ recyclables - paper, metals and plastics, label waste, plastic agricultural containers and wrapping and waste wood for biomass boilers.
The £4million Materials Recycling Facility opened last May and deals with 100,000 tonnes a year, explained its manager Les Brown. It is the biggest single operation in the company employing about 140 staff who continually sort the paper, cans and plastics out by hand,and use magnets and infra-red beams to further extract particles, before the filtered material is put through four baling machines and shipped on to companies specialising in recycled products.
As one of the only independent recyclers in the industry, Mr Mountain said they have invested in niche areas that larger concerns may have largely ignored and made their own innovations to extract and recycle the waste for materials not considered in the past, often with new automation designed on site in their fully equipped workshop.
Mr Mountain was proud of the design and maintenance workshop, staff by 25 engineers, who build their baling machines and other equipment. “Our focus is on designing and building for ourselves,” he said. Even the workshop is heated by a biomass boiler. There has been extensive health and safety training programme which is ongoing. Mr Constantine said: “Last Friday we had a multi-agency exercise with all the emergency services, planners, highways and health service involved to test our procedures in various scenarios.”
Major companies such as British Gypsum are now their clients. Mr Mountain said: “We have been processing plasterboard for 10 years, so we have a lot of knowledge in that.”
Not everything can be recycled though. Head of Compliance Alistair Constantine said: “We have had a mini rocket launcher and hand grenades come through before and lots of ammunition and shotgun cartridges.” There have been machetes, knives and a samurai sword, so they have to take care to protect their workforce.
Mr Mountain said this former RAF site is ideal - out of town with good road links, having less constraints on space than an industrial estate. The expansion plans would include a bagging plant for the gypsum products and mattress recycling, plus the recycling of plastic food pots, tubs and trays from spreads and ready meals.
He said the county council have asked the company to put forward a ten year strategy. This included environmental surveys and local consultation and should come up for consideration in January.
He said: “Companies like us are innovative and create solutions to the problems. To be able to recycle our own waste within the county is better from a sustainabilty point of view and it is creating jobs for the future.”