Before it can actually be recovered, and after it is collected by wood recycling specialists, it is essential that waste of this type is sorted in a factory. Let’s look at the various steps involved.
When the waste wood has been collected, and the contents of the various skips have been checked on arrival at a wood recycling company, the separation of materials begins. Or continues in some cases, because the skips sorted at source contain only wood and are immediately directed to the sorting line.
The contents of the others, i.e. those that contain mixed waste, are tipped on to the floor of the wood recycling factory. A manual sort is then carried out by qualified operatives, who might also use a mechanical digger to separate the various materials and place them in specific cells. Some cells are only for class A wood, while others store only class AB woods (i.e. a mix of the two main categories of recyclable wood).
Optical waste sorting
In some cases and at some wood recycling factories, an optical sorting line is used to separate wood from other mixed waste.
Once the materials containing paper, cardboard and plastics are removed manually, all that remains on the belt is a mixture of wood, glass and rubble. These materials are then automatically channelled to a flotation pond, where the lightest fraction of the waste can be recovered (the materials that float, unlike rubble and the heaviest pieces of glass).
The optical sorter proper then begins its work, identifying the remaining fragments of scrap paper or cardboard and keeping only the wood. The second phase of wood recycling, grinding, can then start.
The grinding step – crucial in any wood recycling factory – is itself broken down into two phases.
The sorted waste is first placed in a slow grinder equipped with magnets in order to remove metallic parts (like the nails, hinges and screws frequently found in waste from bulky waste collections). Then the materials processed at the 200 mm setting are sieved through rotary screens, to complete the sorting process. Remember that recycling wood is also about making it easier for conversion firms to upcycle it in the future. Remember too that while these machines do not work as quickly as automatic refiners, they do prevent excessive production of dust, and therefore limit the associated pollution.
After this two-step grinding process, the materials are again directed to specific cells, pending transportation to their various processing points, where they will be upcycled or used to generate energy. This is the logical next step in the wood recycling process.
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