Some Good News
The good news is the technology for such separation is already out there. Trommel fines can be further treated to remove these “other contaminants” ensuring that the resultant material is comprised predominantly of qualifying materials.
As the material has already been sorted by size, the removal of the other contaminants can only be achieved using a combination of magnetic/eddy current separation (to remove both ferrous and non-ferrous metals) and density separation (to remove fragments of paper, plastic, food waste, etc.) Using this technology to treat trommel fines is therefore a logical next step in its evolution.
Whilst the capital outlay is not insignificant, the potential savings in landfill tax will be huge once HMRC insist on rigorous compliance with this legislation.
To continue with the example of an operator producing 40 tonnes per day of trommel fines – and assuming they typically comprise 80% of naturally occurring rock/soil, fragments of concrete, brick or other ceramics – simply separating these from the other “non-qualifying material” could reduce the landfill tax bill to £160,000/year – a tax saving of £640,000/year.
Furthermore, the publication of the revised WRAP Protocol now allows mineral recovered from the mechanical (and/or biological) treatment of trommel fines and other waste streams to be used in the production of aggregates. This means a significant proportion of the trommel fines currently being landfilled can be sold as recovered aggregate.
HMRC has clearly shown its intent. What now seems likely, during 2014, is the inevitable enforcement of this legislation on the disposal of trommel fines which will undoubtedly encourage the industry to at least further process this material to minimise the landfill tax or, even more beneficially, encourage its recovery as an aggregate.
Either way, the waste management industry has no choice but to sharpen up its act with respect to the treatment and disposal of this waste stream.