Did you know your recycled aluminium cans are back on the shelves within six weeks? Find out how!

Jul 18, 2017

Our Moray Reach Out recycling team works hard to sort, process and recycle Moray’s purple bins! Find out how our team helps the community stay healthy!

Laura Campbell, Waste Watchers Lossiemouth Team Leader, explains that a load of recycling arrives each morning, normally weighing about 5 to 6 Tonnes! The first step in the process is to use the forklift to place the loads of plastics and cans into a machine called the Hopper.

5-6 Tonnes of Recycling comes in to our site daily

After the recycling is placed in the Hopper the sorting process begins with the First Line. Our team removes objects like large plastics, glass, metals and anything else that shouldn’t be recycled and places them into the appropriate bin.

Above is the Hopper which starts the recycling into the sorting machines

The First Line sorts out recyclables from non-recyclables

The next stage is the Steel Picking Line where plastic is separated from steel cans. Laura explains that any metal that has made it past the First Line is taken out to put in the Metal Skip. Then the steel cans are squished into square bales by the Steel Baler. This requires the bale to be manually tied off which is done by staff and trainees.

Steel Picking Line

Steel Baler

Steel Bales

The plastics go through a similar process where they first go through the Plastic Picking line and then into the Plastic Baler. They are also pressed into a bale however these are automatically tied off by a computer system.

Plastic Picking Line

Plastic Baler

Plastic Baler Computer System

Finally the Aluminum Picking Line removes any plastics, foils or aerosols from the aluminium cans which are then placed in the Aluminium Baler. This system crushes the cans into aluminum biscuits which are stacked on a cradle to dry out for three days! They are loaded onto large pallets ready to go on to another site.

Aluminium Picking Line

Aluminium Biscuits out to dry

Aluminium Bales piled on to wooden pallets

After producing plastic, steel and aluminium bales the recycling is sent on to other sites. Our plastic bales go down to Perth and Aluminium to Winchester. Our team starts a process that gets recycled aluminium cans back on the shelves in as little as six weeks!

Plastic Bales Ready to go off to Perth

When asked why we do each stage, they answered that each stage is there to ensure that anything that comes through the line that shouldn’t is removed, to make sure our bales are as clean as possible from contamination and to ensure that the machines run smoothly.

Our team has to take precautions and safety measures very seriously in this industrial setting. Everyone wears PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) including high visibility vests, boiler suits, steel toe cap boots, gloves and ear defenders. All of the trainees help to prevent fire hazards by making sure fire exits are kept clear and brushes and scoops aren’t left lying on the floor.

Our team wearing their protective clothing

Our team feel that their jobs are important to the Moray community as recycling helps to minimise landfill and provide a healthier community free of pollution.

However our team face several challenges while they process. The most prominent being contamination from items that should not be in the purple bins. These can create breakdowns of the machinery which means that our trainees are unable to come into work until they are fixed!

Trainees working hard processing

All of our trainees love to work in the recycling centre! Many of them say that they love to be part of a team. They also explain that they like having staff that train them on the machines! Finally all of them agree that their favourite part is being able to work in a place that is important to the community!