EMR plans recycling and gasification plant in Midlands

European Metal Recycling plans to build a recycling and gasification facility in the West Midlands which, if built, would be one of the UK's largest facilities dealing with post-shredder residues from end-of-life vehicles (ELVs).

Documents submitted to Sandwell metropolitan borough council late last month reveal proposals to build a facility at Oldbury with the capacity to process up to 190,000 tonnes-a-year of the material which is left after ELVs are shredded, recovering metals, plastics and aggregates which would then be sent on to reprocessors.

And, the remaining material - wood, foam and plastics - would then be treated using gasification to generate up to 30 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity, with just 5,700 tonnes of material left at the end of the process expected to be sent to landfill.

While the 75% of a car that is metal can be relatively easily recovered, difficulties with recovering the non-metallic remainder are seen as a major barrier to the UK increasing its ELV recovery and recycling rate from the 84.23% achieved in 2007 to the 95% goal it must meet by 2015.

This is reflected by the document submitted to Sandwell council, which states that the proposed development would "actively support" EMR - which is thought to be the UK's largest recycling business - in meeting its ELV recovery targets.

And, just days ago, the British Metal Recycling Association, of which EMR is one of the largest members, called for more financial support from government to help develop the UK's capacity to recover post-shredder residue to help it to meet its ELV goals.


The EMR proposals are outlined in a scoping document which was submitted to Sandwell council by Luton-based Tripos Consulting, seeking its opinion on the environmental impact of the plans before the completion of an environmental impact assessment, and submission of a formal planning application.

It explains that the process would involve post-shredder residue, which is known as Automotive Shredder Residue (ASR), being transported into the proposed 7.5 hectare home of the facility "principally" by rail from EMR's shredders nationwide.

There, "conventional" segregation equipment such as trommels, eddy current separators and overband magnets would be used to recover 23,500 tonnes-a-year of non-ferrous metals, 10,000 tonnes-a-year of aggregates and 19,000 tonnes-a-year of plastics.

Of this, the metal and aggregates would be sold by EMR and the plastics would be sent by road to "a plastics reprocessing plant" at Worksop in Nottinghamshire. EMR is currently developing a £17.1 million facility in Worksop with US plastics recycling company MBA Polymers which is expected to become operational early next year.

The document explains that the remaining 137,500 tonnes-a-year of material, which it dubs "refined ASR", would then be processed using both conventional turbines and 'RODECS' gasification technology, which has been developed by US company Chinook Sciences


Chinook Sciences, which has UK offices in Nottingham, announced last week (November 16) that it had formed a joint venture, 'Innovative Environmental Solutions UK Ltd', with EMR to develop the "first commercial scale venture" recovering materials and energy from ASR, but did not specify the location of the proposed plant.

At the time, David Ireland, director of technical services at EMR, said: "This alliance with Chinook Sciences is very exciting and a further significant step toward our goal of achieving 95% recycling and recovery from our shredding operation and thereby further improving the impact on the environment."

Gasification involves heating material so that the organic matter is degraded and transformed into a synthetic gas, or 'syngas', which is then burnt to produce steam, which, in turn, drives a steam turbine connected to an electrical generator.

The scoping document explains that a further 22,800 tonnes a year of metals, glass and aggregates would be recovered from the "inert solid residues" produced by the gasification process using the site's "reclamation facilities" - which will then be sold by EMR, with the remaining 5,700 tonnes-a-year of inert residue having to be landfilled.

Sandwell council has until next Thursday (December 3) to respond to the scoping report with a scoping opinion.

EMR's plans represent the latest in a series of large scale waste development proposed within the Sandwell area, with nappy recycling company Knowaste also looking to build its first UK facility at a site in the borough, and the council currently procuring a major waste contract which would involve an 'Eco Park' being built in West Bromwich.

When contacted by, EMR had no comment to make on the proposals.

Press Release from - November 27, 2010