Project explores new markets for paper mill waste
London— A project to develop
opportunities for recycling paper mill sludge into new products
is being funded by WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Program).
Employing innovative technology from Canada, the overall aim of
the project is to derive economic benefit from the waste by processing
it into usable materials and reducing the amount that is landfilled.
The project, allocated significant
funding by WRAP, will use the capabilities of the new KDS Micronex
sludge processing plant developed by First American Scientific
Corporation (FASC). Sited at Aylesford Newsprint in Kent, the
demonstration plant is the first of its kind in Europe.
Paper mill sludge is the main
waste product from the manufacture of white recycled papers, and
can represent as much as 40% of the material input in the production
of higher quality paper grades. In total, UK mills generate around
one million tons of sludge per annum, and end uses for this material
have been limited.
“With higher quality requirements
for paper, and rising landfill costs, the volume and cost of sludge
disposal is becoming an inhibiting commercial factor for the further
expansion of recycled paper manufacture,” explains David
Powlson, WRAP’s technical manager for paper.
Up until now, the potential to
recycle the sludge has been limited because of its composition.
Typically, it is made up of 50% fiber and 50% fillers (minerals
used to increase smoothness, gloss and opacity); two components
that can be recycled more easily individually than in combination.
What the FASC equipment can do is cost effectively dry the sludge
into a fluff, as opposed to a compacted residue, allowing the
fiber and fillers to be separated out.
The project divides into three
stages. Initially, the moisture content of the sludge is reduced
from 50% to 10% by the KDS Micronex. The resulting sludge fluff
can then be split into its fiber and filler constituents using
screening equipment, and the materials assessed for their recycling
potential. In the case of fiber, possible end uses include insulation,
lower grade paper applications and fuel briquettes, and the filler
material has properties that could be beneficial in the manufacture
of a range of products, particularly for the construction sector.
Brian Nichols, president of FASC,
is confident that the demonstration will deliver positive results.
Expected to be running at full
capacity in June, the KDS Micronex and associated equipment will
be installed and initially operated by RB Plant, which has in-depth
experience in this field.