A group of us visited the Re3 Waste Management site at Smallmead, Reading, to find out what happens to our re-cycling that is collect from the roadside. On arrival, we went to the Education room to be kitted out with boots, hard hat, gloves, hi-viz jacket, goggles as well as a motion detector and ear piece so that we could hear the guide above the noise of the machinery. We had an introductory talk which explained how Re3 came into being in 2006 as a partnership between Bracknell Forest, Wokingham and Reading Borough Councils and FCC Environment. The partnership’s aims are to process waste using cost-effective, efficient and environmentally friendly methods, to drive up re-cycling rates and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.
The tour of the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) was impressive as it is enormous and all under one roof. Unfortunately, the machinery was blocked and so not operating whilst we were there, however that did allow us to see inside the trammel, which is huge rotating drum which sorts waste into different categories. It also meant that we didn’t need ear defenders! We saw the different processes, including areas where human pickers pull out items which should not be in recycled waste and which could damage the machinery, for instance items such as kettles, ball bearings and cables.
Lastly we saw the finished bales of sorted material which are then loaded onto lorries to be taken to reprocessing centres around the country – for example the most valuable commodity is aluminium, the stacked bales which we saw (as in the photo) are worth £50,000! A most worthwhile and educational visit which answered a lot of our questions and inspired us to continue to do our bit to cut back on waste.
The two hour visit was free of charge and our thanks to Rosa for organising it.