Programmable Sorting System Offers Maximum Flexibility

Middleton Balers & Steinert Optical Sorting System Help Amey Boost Recycling in Gloucester

Middleton Engineering has designed and installed a new waste sorting and baling solution for Gloucester City Council’s waste and recycling contractor, Amey.


Glastonbury based recycling equipment specialist, Middleton Engineering, has designed and installed a new waste sorting and baling solution for Gloucester City Council’s waste and recycling contractor, Amey.

Middleton explained that the upgrades at Amey’s depot in Gloucester follows a new kerbside waste collection regime to boost recycling across the city to 50% and reduce costs in line with budget pressures.

Now completed and commissioned, the new sorting line is expected to enable Amey to increase production volumes. It forms part of an overall strategy with Gloucester City Council to deliver significant cost savings and to divert a further 2000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

Amey’s waste and recycling contract with Gloucester City Council runs until 2022 with an option to extend to 2027.

Selected following a competitive tender, Middleton Engineering was responsible for all aspects of the bespoke solution including, design, fabrication, installation and commissioning. This comprises a series of chain and slider bed conveyors, five in total, to transport material through a number of overhead automated sorting processes.

These include Overband and Head Drum magnets to remove ferrous metals, an Eddy Current Separator and finally a Steinert UniSort PR optical sorter, for separating a range of plastics.

Sorted material drops into infeed bays constructed in steel, each measuring 5.5m wide by 7.5m deep and 3m high. Access gantries and walkways, SCADA controls to fully integrate each element of the system and lock off emergency stop switches and safety pulls, complete the solution.

Programmed for Flexibility
Importantly the optical sorter can be programmed to pick up and accurately sort any one of seven plastic types, for example PET or HDPE, allowing a high degree of flexibility to match changing  commodity prices and enabling Amey to focus on high quality, high value plastics and in turn increase revenues.

Sorted materials are then loaded into a new SCAPA ME2R80 twin ram baler, incorporating a wire tying head, to be baled and shipped out for reprocessing. Manufactured by Middletons in Somerset, this is designed to handle and bale the full range of recyclates including hard plastics, which might be required at a future date, and delivering optimal bale weights and dimensions for economic container transportation.

Malcolm Cox, Operations Manager for Amey commented: “Working flat out we have been cracking through a six-week backlog of material since our new kerbside collection regime started and the new sorting system and baler have been running extremely well.

Middleton said that it completed the inside a tough ten week window to deliver a system that gives added flexibility and capacity to increase recycling across the city and maximise income streams.

“With the Optical Sorter, we can programme to pull out the highest paying products as the market changes, constantly reprogramming if necessary. The new sorting line also enables us to take on more contracts and process more items. With the goal to increase recycling by 5% we are already exceeding our targets,” added Cox.

Middleton Engineering has been supplying Amey with balers since 2005 and the latest plant, designed to handle and process material at three tonnes an hour and sized to optimise available space at the Gloucester depot, upgrades earlier ME70 and ME80 machines.

With commissioning and operator training completed in March. Middleton added that Amey will also benefit from full back up and support when necessary, including immediate access to a full set of spares to ensure straightforward maintenance.

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