The UK's Biffa waste management group has invested £3.1 million into glass cleaning technology at its two ‘super’ Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) at Aldridge and in Edmonton, UK.

It said it aims to boost material quality and ‘reduce the risk presented by the volatile onward glass market’.

The investment has seen upgrades made to the two materials recycling facilities, enabling the output of glass from commingled material to be cleaned to produce ‘a better grade of glass’ while ensuring ‘increased and sustainable profitability and growth for the business’.

According to Biffa, the equipment has been up and running at both MRFs for more than a month and will help the company to ‘create demand in and target new markets, as well as open up new sales channels for the business’.

The firm said that the upgraded technology would enable the firm to reduce levels of contamination often found in the material.

It said glass recycling as ‘one of the most problematic areas of waste management faced by the sector’.

The Edmonton MRF is licensed to process up to 350,000 tonnes of mixed recyclables annually, a maximum of around 95,000 tonnes of which is glass.

The Aldridge MRF, meanwhile, has the capacity to process up to 300,000 tonnes of mixed recyclables each year. Of this material, the MRF is able to process up to around 65,000 tonnes of glass each year.

In addition, the upgrade at the Aldridge MRF has also seen the installation of NRT fibre optical sorting technology designed by Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), which according to Biffa is ‘first design of its kind in Europe’.

The optical sorting technology removes paper fibres from the glass, which has enabled Biffa to increase its fibre recovery by 7% at the facility.

Ian Wakelin, chief executive at Biffa, said: “In order to meet the needs of today’s contaminated glass, while securing a profitable future for this area of the business, investment was a prerequisite.

“The new technology afforded by this major investment will enable our glass recycling plants to operate more efficiently and effectively, while ensuring we can create a sustainable pathway for business development.”