Hans van de Greef of ARN
The main focus at the PST plant last year was on increasing efficiency. And our efforts have clearly hit the mark. As compared to 2013, total production rose from 25,000 tonnes to 36,000 tonnes. Nonetheless, there is still room for further improvement.
Fewer disruptions and energy savings
The efficiency improvement over the past twelve months is above all due to more streamlined cooperation between production and our technical department. We now carry out more preventive maintenance, and have introduced standard maintenance downtimes. As a result, there are fewer disruptions and the machines are only actually shut down at times when no shredder residue is being processed. These changes have also realised energy savings of as much as 20% per tonne of processed material. That is what you call sustainable working practice! We are most fortunate with the excellent cooperation we receive from the shredder companies. All the shredders processing Dutch end-of-life vehicles now supply their shredder residue to the PST plant, at a flat rate price. Partly as a consequence, we in Tiel always have sufficient shredder residue for processing – an excellent example of the way in which the chain partners work together to arrive at the highest possible recycling percentage.
Further production increases
Over the coming year we have already identified opportunities for raising production by another 5,000 tonnes. With this in mind, we are also looking for suppliers outside the automotive sector, for example heavily contaminated plastic flows from waste plastic and small domestic devices. Using our existing systems, we are fully capable of processing those items, which means that they too will be subject to a commercial rate. For the PST plant, that is the next step in eventually achieving breakeven figures.
Essential in that respect is also our objective of making the various fractions even purer. This not only meets the wishes of our raw material customers but also help boost the price we receive. With that in mind, during the second half of 2014, we commissioned a series of new machines better capable of separating rubber and wood from the main flow. We also have one fraction in the plant that contains a relatively high proportion of copper. For the time being, the copper is recovered by an external party, but preparations are underway for an installation that will enable us to do the job ourselves, in 2015.
To optimise the processing line and as a consequence to achieve the 95% recycling and recovery target laid down in the European Directive, ARN received a European grant from the LIFE+ project. Within the framework of this grant, numerous improvements have been implemented in the process flow. Examples include optimisation of the input of the ever changing composition of the shredder residue, and improving the measuring systems that help stabilise the process flow. In addition, the already referred to rubber and wood removal systems are included in the LIFE+ targets. The project will be concluded by the end of 2015, at which time ARN will publish a complete report of all activities undertaken within the LIFE+ project.
Trials with raw materials
Within ARN, a specially assembled team is hard at work identifying possible new applications for raw materials recovered in the PST plant. On a test bench, for example, we are already producing sheet material from fibres and plastic, on a small scale. During the course of 2015, this trial is to be followed up with a real pilot line capable of processing 500 kg of material every hour. The output will be sufficient to examine the market for the material, and to investigate the feasibility of large-scale production. There is also a small plastic fraction that at present is incinerated in the waste furnaces, but which could also be suitable for the production of plastic sheeting. We are in discussion with an external party for this application, although to be eligible for this method of recycling, the fraction needs to be purer than is currently the case. All in all, the fact that we were awarded ISO 14001 certification in 2014 is a favourable development. In the coming year, we aim to obtain ISO 9001 standard certification as well. These are important steps in further improving our processes and hence our overall efficiency.