Zero Waste Scotland –
Ekko Glass -
"super cullet" crushers
Zero Waste Scotland’s “Recycling Innovation Fund”, provided support to Ekko Glass in the development of a hybrid glass crusher. The crusher produces a “super cullet” with individual pieces of broken glass being large enough to allow colour separation. As a result, the mixed glass collected through the crusher meets the high quality standard required for closed-loop recycling via remelt.
Background and Drivers
Ekko Waste Solutions (Ekko Glass), is a glass collection operator with many years experience in the sector. Prior to the super cullet project, the company operated a "crush and collect" service using standard glass crushers to collect from commercial customers. Mixed glass was collected and as the resultant crushed material was unable to be colour separated, it was necessary to recycle it via lower quality routes such as aggregates.
To increase the quality and value of the material collected, Ekko Glass worked with the glass industry to research and develop a machine which would still crush the glass, but keep it at a suitable size for colour separation. The ultimate result is that this material can now be sent to remelt, a closed-loop recycling option, thereby maximising efficient use of this resource and retaining the value within the economy.
With the Waste (Scotland) Regulations now requiring businesses to arrange for separate collections of recyclables, including glass, there has been a considerable increase in the quantity of material being captured. The regulatory collection requirement, combined with Zero Waste Scotland's aim of maximising the quality and value of recyclables, has created a positive policy landscape for the expansion and improvement of glass recycling.
The support from Zero Waste Scotland enabled Ekko to manufacture & distribute our unique glass crushing equipment. After extensive research & testing, the Ekko crusher meets the requirements of the hospitality sector while producing "super cullet" as specified by glass processors. The next step is to replicate this success across the UK and into export markets.
Brian Williamson, Managing Director
Ekko Glass successfully applied to Zero Waste Scotland's "Recycling Innovation Fund" and, in conjunction with a technical partner, developed several prototype crushers. Prototypes were tested off-site by Ekko Glass and, if suitable to move to the next stage, were then subjected to on-site testing by clients.
Where a need for improvement was highlighted, a new prototype was developed and the testing processes started again. The final prototype was signed off for full production in July 2014.
With financial support from Zero Waste Scotland and investment from Ekko Glass, the project fund was able to cover the cost of producing 66 crushers, a new bespoke collection vehicle, and communications materials including livery and signage.
Since the development of the crushers, Ekko Glass has seen its collection operation expand significantly. In addition to a super cullet, "crush and collect" system, a whole bottle collection service is now in place. This means that the company can offer services suitable for a range of businesses sizes and types. As a result, Ekko Glass has been appointed as a sub-contractor for other, large waste management collection companies.
While the majority of customers have whole bottle collections, it is recommended that those producing large quantities of glass purchase a super cullet crusher. This reduces the collection frequency required and/or the number of containers to be stored. For clients, this has the benefit of reducing storage requirements and can reduce collection costs.
We use the Ekko Glass system in 2 hotels both producing large volumes of glass. Given our limited storage space, the system allows us to segregate our waste streams & reduces uplifts in a busy city centre restricted access area. It would cost 500% more to return to traditional collections.
Stevie Masterson, Principal Hayley
Since the development of the hybrid crusher, the older, standard model crushers provided by Ekko Glass have been retrofitted so that the material collected is now of the super-cullet standard. This has prevented the older machines from becoming obsolete and means that all crushed material collected is now suitable for remelt, not just cullet from the new machines.
As the collection operation has grown and improved, so too has the supporting infrastructure developed and used by Ekko Glass. In order to meet the increased demand for glass collections, the company now operates across the central belt and has made a number of logistical improvements in order to enhance service efficiency and to reduce the CO2 impact of the service. There are now 5 glass collection vehicles, all of which meet the Euro 5/6 standard; 2 new depots were put in place to reduce travel times and distances across the central belt; and a network of glass "bulking points" has been established.
This expansion of Ekko's collection infrastructure has been assisted by the development of a new glass processing facility within Scotland. Acceptance of the "super cullet" more widely at processing facilities in the UK also means that further expansion of the collection operation is now possible.
Savings and benefits
From the implementation date to early 2016, 3200t of super cullet were collected through new and retro-fitted crushers. By maintaining an appropriate size for colour separation, over 90% of this material was able to go to remelt, thereby saving 1077t of CO2. In addition all cullet collected by Ekko Glass is currently processed within Scotland.
Ekko Glass received national recognition for this project, winning the MRW National Recycling Awards "Innovation of the Year award 2015", and the Rushlight "Resource Management Award 2014-15".