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Making recycling viable with fit-for-purpose screening

Recycling of waste material is a no-brainer for the planet, and suitable screening applications have to be developed to make it a reality.

“Everyone wants to recycle more; it makes sense environmentally and it’s the right thing to do,” says Kwatani business development manager Warren Mann. “Recyclable waste is generally low value, however, so any recycling solution must have a highly cost effective strategy for separating different elements of the product.”

Mann highlights that, unlike most mined material, the shape and other characteristics of products that industry wants to recycle are often irregular and difficult to screen. Strands of copper wire, for instance, simply do not pass through a screening medium as easily as aggregate stone or sand. Similarly, chips of rubber produced by a tyre shredder are also likely to be highly varied in shape, size and consistency.

Challenges

“This means that anyone wanting to screen industrial waste in a commercially sustainable way is unlikely to find an off-the-shelf screen design to do this,” he explains. “Detailed testing of material on different screens – or with a range of screening dynamics and parameters – is usually the only way to find a cost effective solution.”

The real challenge is that most recycling demands an economy of scale, in which a sufficient volume of material can be effectively recycled to overcome the low margins of the final product. It is therefore not enough to find an in-principle solution; the duty that a screen must accomplish is a key variable in its success.

“Kwatani has decades of experience in understanding customers’ screening needs, so we can design and manufacture a screen that is fit-for-purpose,” he says. “This expertise extends across a range of material and commodities – making us familiar with how different products respond to screening.”

The company’s testing laboratory is where investigations tend to start, and customers can witness how their material performs under different screening conditions. Mann explains that a machine used to screen corrosive products like crushed batteries would need to be built from specialised materials of construction, for example. There are also materials that tend to clog the screening surface, so a self-cleaning kit may be required.

“No matter what the material is to be recycled, Kwatani is well placed to test how it responds to a range of screening options, and to make recommendations to customers,” he concludes. “The testing we conduct will give recyclers valuable insights into how best to proceed, by avoiding the trial-and-error method that costs them more in terms of time, effort and resources.”

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