The event opened with Sam Haig's excellent presentation introducing the activities at Axion, EU End of Life Vehicles targets for recycling and the principles of sustainability driving these and regulations. The ELV directives that by 2015 85% by weight of all vehicles will need to be recycled which means that plastics are included in the recycling mix.
The focus of Axion's work is in plastics and polymers, but they work in partnership with metal recyclers S Norton to ensure over 95% of any vehicle brought to the Trafford Park site is recycled. Axion have been meeting EU targets since January 2012, the first in the country, and is now sending spectacularly low 0.5% and lower to landfill.
The recycling industry is very new and hence many of the processes are valuable intellectual property. Axion's innovative processes and quality assured output polymers science and technical rigour are absolutely key. Sam showed an example "closed loop" recycled product of the BMW Mini air vent as an end product from 100% recycled polymers. The talks included descriptions of the various processes, including a fabulous explanation of eddy current separation by Nicola Mundy, and outputs and examples of training materials relevant to process engineering, physics, chemistry and statistics, the latter by Uchenna Onwuamaegbu. The tour included the existing and new Shredder Waste Processor Plants which extract valuable heavy metals and polymers from vehicle residue after de-pollution and metal extraction. SWAPP2 represents a major new investment of over £10M for design and installation.
Waste management and recycling is of cross-sectoral relevance and although not often included in curriculum, the topic should be of interest to all scientists and engineers, as well as teachers of sustainability.
“Very interesting. I will be using the materials in enrichment as our younger students will need to know how much can be recycled.” Andrew Burchnall, North Warwickshire & Hinckley College
“I thoroughly enjoyed the day and the day after the event, I was disseminating all morning. I have already found a length of plastic and copper pipe, as well as a magnet to wow people with the eddy current sorting principle.” Greig Foulds, South Devon College
“It was interesting to understand how materials are separated. I intend to use the EU target percentages in my teaching and it would be nice to create a new unit for recycling.”Matt Coggius, Barnsley College