Not all of us can be recycling experts and sometimes we will put something in our Green Bin that doesn’t belong there. For example - yes, a pizza box is made from cardboard so you would think that the Green Bin is the best place for it but unfortunately, a cardboard box covered in grease and food waste is no longer useful for recycling purposes.
All of the waste and junk that Kollect removes from a home, or commercial site, is brought to a facility that separates the recyclables from the non-recyclables. The recyclables are put to good use but it might surprise you to learn that some of the non-recyclables can also be re-purposed. We popped along to one of those facilities, the Panda Recycling Plant in Dublin to find out more about how this process works.
While at the plant, we learned about Solid Recovered Fuel production (SRF). This is a fuel made from the non-recyclable packaging we collect from our customers and is used to replace fossil fuels in the cement industry. Examples of the input materials are non-recyclable plastic films and small paper and cardboard fragments. This material becomes a highly refined fuel, which is used in cement kilns in Ireland and overseas.
Cement is an energy intensive activity, traditionally very reliant on coal, or coal related products, to generate the heat necessary for cement production. However, through the application of best industrial sustainability practices, SRF use has allowed some cement producers migrate from near total reliance on fossil fuel; almost 100% coal in 2005, to less than 30% coal at present.
As up to 50% of SRF is comprised of paper and cardboard fragments, the use of SRF releases significantly lower amounts of CO2 than the use of coal. Prior to its use in cement manufacture, the materials that SRF is comprised of were landfilled. Therefore, the use of SRF is a unique triple environmental benefit, i.e., it replaces fossil fuel, diverts material from landfill and recycles the ash content of the SRF into high quality cement products.