The shredding of pulper ropes is a complex, heavy duty operation which has traditionally required the efforts of two machines. But when UNTHA shredding technology was approached by recycled paper manufacturing specialist VPK Packaging Group, the team soon proved that a single XR3000C waste shredder was single-handedly up to the task!
At international packaging manufacturer VPK, the environment is not an afterthought – sustainable operations lie at the heart of the business. The paper mill in Dendermonde, Belgium and Blue Paper mill in France, co-owned with Klingele Papierwerke, produce 900,000 tonnes of paper, per year, from 100% recycled raw material.
That is not to say that VPK’s paper manufacturing process does not pose eco challenges. The two sites combined produce approximately 65,000 tonnes of waste per year, including over 10,000 tonnes of pulper ropes. But sustainable waste management is the number one priority.
Until recently, the complex metal and plastic pulper rope waste was sent off-site for specialist handling. However, a desire to further close the loop on its ‘green’ approach – whilst saving money in the process – saw VPK research the shredder marketplace for its own machinery.
A shortlist of three potential suppliers was drawn up, including Austrian-headquartered UNTHA. The tender stipulated that a turnkey solution was required to process 5,800 tonnes of pulper rope waste per year at the Dendermonde (Belgium) site, and a virtually identical machine would be needed to tackle 4,500 tonnes in Strasbourg (France).
UNTHA’s client proposal included a visit to a reference site in Istanbul, where a very similar application with the same shredding technology is in place. VPK’s process technologist Ann Deschildre explained that this proved a crucial deciding factor: “We were extremely impressed by both the professionalism of the UNTHA team and the capabilities of the turnkey package. The client also spoke highly of the service provision and we could see for ourselves that the single step process made light work of this heavy-duty waste.”
Discussions continued and UNTHA’s sophisticated yet simple design was selected.
Delivered in late 2017, final configurations and acceptance testing took place in February 2018, with the solution now fully operational.
In Dendermonde, pure untreated pulper rope waste is transported via a shovel loader, fresh from the manufacturing process, to a specially-constructed 180sqm adjacent building. A ceiling-mounted claw grab lifts material into an XR3000C equipped with two 113kW motors, two cutting rows, Torque+ gearbox, Eco Drive with synchronous water-cooled motors and in-built foreign object protection. An auto-reverse function helps to manage material flow.
The XR processes the complex waste at a rate of five tonnes per hour and a 50mm screen ensures a homogenous particle sizing. The shredded fraction then exits the machine via an enclosed horizontal conveyor with internal and external scrapers for easy cleaning, before travelling up an elevated conveyor to an electro-magnetic FE-separator.
Here, the liberated metal wiring is extracted for onward sale and recycling, with the resulting material forming the ideal SRF specification for VPK’s own Waste to Energy generation technology. The SRF passes along a final horizontal conveyor where it drops into a bunker to be fed directly into the WtE plant. A level detector senses when the container is at 70% capacity, at which point the conveyor auto reverses so that excess fuel can instead drop into a storage bay for later use.
UNTHA supplied the entire system complete with steel supports, service platforms, access stairways, touch screen Safety Remote Control (SRC) panel and control cabinet room. The team was even responsible for sourcing the in-feed cranage.
Commenting on the nature of the application, UNTHA’s sales manager Daniel Wresnik who was responsible with the earliest dialogue with VPK said: “Here we are talking about a very tricky material, partly because no two grabs of pulper ropes are the same. The metal wire could be 6m in length, or more, and of course it is encased with tough, wet plastic fibre which can soon turn from a sludge to a cement-like consistency as it dries. It is extremely undefined in its nature.
“To process this 1:3 metal and plastic waste, we’ve configured the XR so that it has the highest possible torque on the shaft and can ensure the necessary performance without operating at high speeds. This protects the safety and energy efficiency of the shredding process, whilst avoiding unnecessary wear.
“The technology itself is incredibly sophisticated but from an operational perspective we’ve tried to keep everything as simple as possible. In fact, only one VPK operator mans the line, which speaks volumes.”
VPK’s Group Energy & Environment Johan Dhaese added: “At tender stage our target for Dendermonde was 5,800 tonnes of pulper waste shredding per year, to be treated during daytime working hours only, but early indications suggest we’re going to exceed that, which is fantastic news.
“We have remote diagnostic capabilities via the GSM-connected SRC panel should we need to seek advice on rotor speed or ram adjustment performance, which gives us added peace of mind. But so far, everything is going to plan.”
The complex nature of the input material was not the only challenge with this Belgian project. The footprint of the turnkey package was originally designed to sit outside in the open air. However, further research indicated the benefits of enclosing the line, which resulted in the construction of a 180sqm building to house the system. Adjustments therefore had to be made to the height, angle and lengths of the conveyors, and the shredder even had to be lowered into the building using a 100 tonne crane before the building’s roof was installed.
And Johan Dhaese is delighted with the result. He continued: “Of course we could have continued relying on the services of an external partner to separate the metal and produce our alternative fuel. But by bringing the process in-house we’re reducing the carbon impact of unnecessary waste transportation, saving money and further closing the loop of our circular business model. It is a fantastic outcome.”
The turnkey pulper rope shredding line at VPK’s mill in Dendermonde, Belgium as well as the shredder machine at the Blue Paper mill in France are almost identical. VPK has purchased the two turnkey packages outright with an extended warranty package inclusive of service inspections provided by UNTHA’s Austrian engineers.
The VPK projects take UNTHA’s pulper rope installations to seven throughout Europe – and counting…
Two UNTHA XR waste shredders are now in operation for VPK Packaging Group in continental Europe, shredding pulped ropes as part of a closed loop paper production process.
Renowned for manufacturing 900,000 tonnes of paper per year from 100% recycled materials, VPK’s mill in Dendermonde, Belgium and Blue Paper Mill, co-owned with Klingele Papierwerke, in Strasbourg, France, naturally generate a waste by-product including complex pulper ropes.
This multifaceted 1:3 metal and plastic material was previously treated off site by a third party. However, the new shredding investment means that both sites can now process the waste themselves to manufacture an alternative fuel for their own energy generation.
At Dendermonde, untreated pulper rope waste is being fed into an UNTHA XR3000C shredder via a ceiling-mounted claw grab, at a throughput rate of five tonnes per hour. A 50mm screen ensures homogenous particle sizing before the fraction drops onto a horizontal discharge conveyor. The shredded material then passes up an elevated conveyor to an electro-magnetic FE-separator, where metals are extracted for onward sale and recycling. The finished product is an SRF specification fuel that VPK uses in its own on-site Waste to Energy facility.
The SRF travels via a final horizontal conveyor into a bunker with walking floor to directly feed the plant. A level detector senses when the vessel is 70% full and the conveyor auto-reverses so that excess material can instead drop into a storage bay.
The complete solution including control cabinet room, steel support, service platforms, stairways and even the cranage sourcing, was supplied by UNTHA as a turnkey package. The tender stated a system capable of handling 5800 tonnes per annum (only during daytime working hours), but the VPK team is already confident that this target will be surpassed.
Commenting on the project, VPK’s Group Energy & Environment Manager Johan Dhaese said: “We are particularly impressed that we can process this waste material in a single step, as two shredders have traditionally been required for pulper ropes. We knew from a reference visit to another client site in Turkey, that this one-step methodology would be extremely effective, which is why we proceeded with the XR investment for both our Belgian and French sites.
“By bringing this process in-house we’ve benefited from cost savings, reduced the carbon impact of unnecessary waste transport and created an entirely self-sufficient closed loop too.”
UNTHA’s sales manager Daniel Wresnik, who was responsible for the project from the outset added: “Pulper rope shredding is a notoriously difficult, heavy duty operation which requires a robust and reliable machine. No two grabs of material are ever really the same, so the shredder must be capable of dealing with whatever is thrown at it.
“We’ve equipped the XR with two cutting rows and a torque+ gearbox for maximum torque on the shaft, which ensures performance without the need for high speeds. We have remote diagnostic capabilities should we need to advise on rotor speed or ram adjustments, for instance, but early indications suggest that the line’s only operator has this process fully under control.”
The complex nature of the input material was not the only challenge with this project. The footprint of the turnkey package was originally designed to sit outside in the open air. However, further research indicated the benefits of enclosing the line , which resulted in the construction of a 180sqm building to house the system. Adjustments therefore had to be made to the height, angle and lengths of the conveyors, and the shredder even had to be lowered into the building using a 100 tonnes crane before the building’s roof was installed.
UNTHA’s machine delivery in the Blue Paper Mill in France is virtually identical, apart from the fact that it will be handling approximately 4,500 tonnes of material per year.
Offering a concluding point, Johan said: “Recycling can become a costly and complex process for paper manufacturers, especially when handling waste such as pulper ropes. At the same time, we are always striving to minimise the net environmental impact of our operations – whilst reducing costs – so it made a lot of sense to manage the shredding, separation and SRF production ourselves. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to fully close the loop.”
VPK has purchased the two turnkey packages outright with an extended warranty package inclusive of service inspections provided by UNTHA’s Austrian engineers.
Riverdale Paper has invested in a new UNTHA QR shredder to support the company’s business diversification.
The Gateshead firm quickly established itself as the North East’s leading paper recycler. But contracts with some of the UK’s largest commercial organisations in retail, financial services and public arenas, has seen demand for Riverdale’s wider expertise grow.
Now, the team is being increasingly tasked with tackling plastic waste including polypropylene, HDPE and pre-consumer material from the automotive industry, to name just a few. With volumes of around five tonnes per week, the QR1700 therefore made for the perfect purchase.
With a current processing capacity of two tonnes per hour, the shredder is reducing the plastics to a 30mm fraction that is then sold on to reprocessors for granulation and recycling. The QR is also bein configured to suit different plastic grades.
“The speed and simplicity of machine changeover is very impressive,” comments Riverdale’s assistant general manager Kevin Brown. “The QR is also very easy to clean down which reduces the risk of cross-contamination. This is crucial, given recyclate quality has never been so important.”
Riverdale acknowledged the rising plastic challenges within industry and made the bold move into this recycling niche, in late 2017.
“Plastic is a difficult material to handle, but despite the doom and gloom headlines, it is also a material rich with opportunity,” elaborates Kevin. “We knew that by recycling a ‘waste’ stream that many other firms shy away from, we could provide a better overall service to both existing and new customers.
“By carefully segregating and processing plastics in the way that we do, we’re also able to attract larger rebates than if we were producing mixed bales.”
This project marks the first QR installation since the ground-breaking new technology was introduced to the UK market last Autumn.
Commenting on the project, UNTHA UK’s sales manager Dan Fairest said: “We were incredibly excited to unveil this shredder at the PPMA Show in October, and industry feedback has surpassed our expectations.
“Interest in this machine is also high because of the extent to which plastic waste is dominating media headlines at present. China is pushing back on material quality, pollution in the oceans has never been so severe, and even Chancellor Philip Hammond raised the mounting single use plastic issue in his spring statement. The problem isn’t going to go away, so operators are looking for plastic recycling systems that will address this critical industry concern.
“The QR has been successfully installed and is performing as specified. This is therefore a very exciting time for companies like Riverdale.”
Developed in conjunction with recyclers worldwide, the QR was 18 months in the making. It can process an array of materials including plastics, film, mixed rigids, packaging waste, pallets and wood for biomass. It is available to trial, for free, in UNTHA UK’s North of England test centre.