Monday, April 22, 2024

$16.8m upgrade for Christchurch recycling plant

A multi-million dollar upgrade of the plant where recyclable items collected through Christchurch’s kerbside collection are sorted and readied for sale is about to get under way.

Over the next eight months the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Parkhouse Road, Sockburn, will be completely overhauled, Christchurch City Council said in a statement this week.

New hi-tech sorting equipment will be installed that will make it easier to sort the material collected through the yellow wheelie bins into the separate material types, it said.

Eight optical sorters, two ballistic screens, four bounce conveyors and an eddy current separator will form the core of the upgraded EcoCentral-owned plant.

“The upgrade of the facility will improve our ability to sort plastics and fibre, resulting in higher quality outputs and a wider range of plastic commodity grades,’’ says EcoCentral Chief Executive, Craig Downie.

“This will allow us to maximise the amount of material we recycle and minimise the amount of waste that is going to landfill.’’

It is funding the upgrade of the plant through a $16.8 million grant that it received from the Ministry for the Environment’s special COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

“The current MRF was constructed in 2009 and the equipment is now outdated. There is now better technology available to help with the sorting of the material,’’ Mr Downie says.

“Once the new equipment is operating we will have increased capability to sort fibre – paper and cardboard – which will allow us to expand our customer base for baled sorted fibre. The goal is to have zero fibre dumped to landfill.

“At the moment we have up to 20 staff each shift who are solely focused on sorting paper. Once the plant is upgraded we will only need a handful of staff to do the very final fine sorting of paper. We will be able to upskill the rest of the staff to work in other areas of the plant.

“We’ll also be able to sort mixed plastics into individual commodity types, which should open up more local markets to us,’’ Mr Downie says.

The upgrade of the MRF is expected to be completed in early 2023.

The plant will continue to process the recyclable material collected through the kerbside collection service while the upgrade is carried out.

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