How we helped Origin Global 100% improve their scrap recycling rates
Over the last ten years, we’ve seen the amount of thermally-broken extrusion we handle rise from between 50 and 100, to 500 to 700 tonnes a month.
In our experience, the increase has mainly been spearheaded by the continued expansion of the construction sector, with larger volumes of pre- and post-consumer extrusion scrap entering the UK recycling market.
As a zero-to-landfill site, we’ve adapted our existing recycling processes so we can deal with this new wave of material more efficiently and effectively. It’s a pivotal decision that signalled the start of our closed loop recycling journey, which we’ve been fine-tuning for the last decade.
However, the traditional processes involved with pre- and post-consumer extrusion recycling come with their own unique set of challenges.
- Pre-consumer scrap
Is a new production scrap and has therefore never been installed as a window or door.
Key challenges: Because it’s part of the initial fabrication process, pre-consumer scrap tends to be available as offcuts and discarded for quality issues, such as paint defects or tolerance issues.
- Post-consumer scrap
Is installed as a window or door and supplied on-site with all the necessary attachments, e.g. handles, locks and hinges.
Key challenges: The windows, doors and attachments aren’t just made from aluminium, but various other types of metal, including copper, zinc and steel.
How we overcame these challenges
Working closely with our remelting network, we installed a brand new recycling line, which represented a £750,000 investment in plant and machinery.
The new process enables all of the pre- and post-consumer extrusion that comes to us to be shredded down to a fraction of its size – as small as a penny. This enables the material to be separated out into the various different components much more quickly – around 4 tonnes per hour.
Magnets are then used to remove steel, and eddy currents remove any packaging waste, as well as the thermal barrier that’s knurled or foam-filled into the extrusions. The post-consumer material is then x-rayed and the different metals are mechanically separated into a pre-consumer scrap and a post-consumer scrap pile.
97% clean aluminium
Our dedicated closed loop recycling process enables us to produce aluminium that’s 97% clean. This material is in a good enough condition to be sent to remelting companies and recast into billet for further extrusion.
By fine-tuning this process, we’ve managed to improve the percentage of clean material we generate. What’s more, the installation of our state-of-the-art x-ray technology has reduced zinc levels to 0.07%. The x-rayed material is sent to other recyclers for further processing.
How our closed loop recycling has transformed Origin Global’s carbon footprint
We were approached by one of our customers, Origin Global, to improve their carbon footprint. We started by switching their daily scrap collections to fortnightly collections. This change alone reduced their journeys and emissions from transporting materials.
Thanks to our closed loop recycling process, we were then able to pass on 88% of their extrusion to remelting companies. The remaining 12%, which was packaging waste and thermal barrier, was sent for further recycling.
Samantha Wright, Environmental Officer at Origin Global, said: “Alutrade is a supplier we can rely on and trust, and we’re consistently impressed by their high quality service. By working with them, we are confident that our scrap is 100% recycled and supporting the circular economy.”
Widespread sustainability success
Our closed loop recycling process has completely transformed our approach to pre- and post-consumer extrusion.
Ed concludes: “We can guarantee all of the materials we send to remelters is steel-free, with significantly reduced zinc levels.
“More importantly, it also enables us to save 95% of the original energy used to mine and refine bauxite to produce primary aluminium ingots. And because we’re dealing directly with remelters, we’re offering more competitive prices. At the same time, we’re also enabling many of our customers to achieve widespread sustainability successes too.”