An investment approaching €1.6 million has just been completed at Berryman's glass treatment plant in West Yorkshire, UK.
The company claims that the investment has created the UK's largest colour 'enhancement' facility to further improve the quality of recycled glass delivered to the company's long term partner, glass container manufacturer Rockware Glass.
Multiple colour detection machines have been installed and are now successfully operating to deliver an unprecedented 99.5 per cent pure colour on clear recycled glass. This equipment allows the plant's full 200,000 tonne capacity to be colour enhanced, a breakthrough allowing Rockware to use higher levels of recycled glass.
Malcolm Vernon, director of Logistics at Rockware explained: "At present, when we reach between 50 per cent and 60 per cent recycled content in clear glass, we start to see a 'greenish' tinge appear in the glass. If this is unchecked, we risk incurring customer complaints and ultimately loss of business. Improvements in colour purity allow us to break through this traditional barrier."
This technological advance reduces green and brown glass content within the clear stream from about 5 per cent to 0.5 per cent. Within the coloured glass streams the colour variance has been reduced from around 10 per cent to less than 3 per cent.
Each of the colour detection machines uses two continuously scanning, high resolution digital cameras to find 'out of colour' glass fragments. For example within the clear glass stream the cameras will identify brown and green glass. When the camera 'sees' the out of colour glass it activates a high pressure air jet which diverts the glass to a storage bin for later re-treatment.
A total of £7million has now been invested in the Knottingley treatment facility to make it arguably the most sophisticated glass recycling plant in the world. Still more investment will be completed before the end of 2002 to further improve quality.
Mick Keogh, Berryman MD, said: "We are starting to see growth in recycling rates within the areas we manage. More bottle banks are being placed and more households are being covered by kerbside collection. As this process continues more glass treatment capacity will be needed, and planning work is already underway on two further treatment plants."
These will be based at Rockware's manufacturing sites in Doncaster and Irvine, Scotland, and will have the same high quality performance as the Knottingley facility. These plants will be brought on stream as soon as glass collection increases sufficiently at Local Authority level.
The introduction of this world class colour enhancement technology means that Rockware is able to use what it claims is the highest standard of clear glass. To achieve this unprecedented degree of colour enhancement, the input to the plant must continue to be colour separated by the public or the kerbside collector.
Mick Keogh concluded: "Colour separated glass will give local authorities the highest possible value for the material, and will help the UK reach the maximum recycling rate while achieving the greatest environmental benefit. Despite this, there is so strong a demand for recycled glass that we are still able to take mixed glass, at a lower value than colour separated, while we continue with research and development for the future."
Malcolm Vernon added:"Our customers require suppliers to have a continuous improvement culture with a zero defect goal. Rockware has responded and led the glass container industry on quality levels, becoming the first and only glass container manufacturer outside the USA to achieve 'Select Status' a highly respected quality standard from the world's largest brewer Anheuser Busch."
"Our strategic objective is to increase recycled glass usage from the current 200,000 tonnes to 400,000 tonnes per annum. Rockware will not compromise on its quality standards to achieve this, but through long term partnerships with suppliers will seek to improve finished product quality, partly through improvements to the quality of its input raw materials. One of our key input raw materials is recycled glass."