An inside view into our Operations department


You may have spotted one of our vans around town or noticed one of our drivers collecting from your office, but have you ever wondered what happens to the waste we take away? Or how the whole process works?

Operations department

In Operations, we look after all customer collection requests, planning out routes that are as eco-friendly as possible while also maximising driver productivity. We collect and recycle many different waste streams – from paper, cardboard to cans, glass to wood and much more beyond. And all of these waste streams need vehicles suited to them and suited to the customer, to safely transport the materials back to our depots.

Once at the depot materials are segregated and, where relevant, their grade is determined (cardboard, paper, plastics and metals all have different grades, which affect how they’re recycled or shredded). This takes us to an ever increasing critical stage as we have to ensure that your recycling waste is delivered to the end processors (those companies that take the material and make it into new re-usable raw product) in a way that meets the processors’ requirements. For example, if a paper mill wants bales of used cardboard boxes, they don’t want 95% cardboard and 5% mixed paper and plastic contamination. If this is what is delivered the whole load can be returned to us at great expense and associated environmental harm. It has to be said that the 5% contamination mentioned above is often discarded by the processor and is not recycled.

At Printwaste we support the need for greater segregation of recycling materials to ensure that we achieve, on behalf of our customers,100% recycling. The move over the last 10 years towards mixed recycling, or DMR as it is often called, has not been helpful to the recycling movement, as quality from these mega plants is very questionable and detrimental to the recycling materials market worldwide. China will not take recycled cardboard from the DMR factories – however they will from Printwaste!

If the segregation doesn’t happen or that the material is unsuitable, the processor will be unable to use the material and it will be rejected and returned to the recycling company. As we supply these materials to destinations across Europe and all the way to the Far East, there are expensive costs associated with failing quality inspections. So, it is absolutely essential we get it right.

After segregating, the different waste streams are baled, boxed or shredded or even sometimes handled loose with JCB loading shovels – real big toys! They are then kept in storage until we generate enough material to load a large 44 tonne artic truck – Did you know it only takes 20 minutes to load recycling materials into one of these. The materials are then sent off to an appropriate processor to be treated and manufactured into newly recycled products

Therefore, product quality is paramount. And fortunately for us a lot of our customers are willing to work with us to present waste in the right way. Coupled with our skilled and knowledgeable workforce, who are keen to ensure quality, we tend to avoid the above issues in the main. But to help it stay that way, have a read of our ‘Education’ article this month, where we discuss this issue further.

And, overall for us in Operations, our goal is to find the most sustainable processing route for your waste, so that we get the most we can out of it and keep the environment as healthy as possible. All of us at Printwaste are working hard to create a zero to landfill future and are on a mission to achieve this status for every business we work with.


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