Waste contractor's guide to recycling construction waste

Using technology at your materials recovery facility


If you install the right equipment at a construction and demolition materials recovery facility it can play a crucial role in the operation.

The main advantage of automation is that it can significantly boost the sorting capacity and recovery rate of a materials recovery facility. This will save you labour costs and reduce the risks of accidents.

Because of the costs involved when buying, installing, upgrading or maintaining machinery, you should be confident of a rapid return from an investment in machinery such as:

  • trommels - rotating cylinders set at an angle with holes of a fixed diameter to allow small matter to fall through and larger fraction to continue onto an onward conveyor belt
  • vibratory screens - a series of tapered levels which are angled down which shake vigorously, simultaneously sieving out the fines and moving it down the slope
  • disk screens and star screens - steel shafts to which spinning plastic stars or disks are fixed to grip large, light objects and carry them up the slope, with heavier items rolling down and smaller material falling through the screen
  • magnets - to extract ferrous metal
  • picking cabin equipment - with a conveyor belt passing through it of an appropriate width to allow efficient waste picking
  • water separation equipment - a flotation tank for separating less dense materials from heavier aggregates
  • air separation equipment - either sucking or blowing unwanted material away from the aggregate or soil
  • shredders - powerful shredding machines to reduce the space taken up by recovered materials

Advanced materials recovery equipment

You can invest in additional advanced equipment such as a ballistic separator. A ballistic separator can be installed after a trommel to perform a sophisticated separation process, whereby:

  • heavy material, such as brick or wood, is walked up a slope
  • lighter material, such as paper, travels down the incline
  • an optional screen deck to recover a third fraction of heavy fines

The heavy fraction may then pass on for handpicking, while the lighter material could then pass through an optical separator.

Equipment materials recovery maintenance

Constant care of materials recovery facility equipment and machinery will ensure effective operation on the production line. This can be done by on-site engineers who perform tasks such as cleaning and maintaining equipment during downtime and responding immediately to mechanical failure.

You should also implement planned and preventative maintenance schedules and discipline staff who fail to take proper care of the equipment.