A case study detailing the success at Exeter City Council’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) with the introduction of an optical sorter to maintain quality of feedstock being processed and improve the quality of output material. 

Key points
  • Estimated payback on initial £250,000 investment within 10 years
  • Quality of output materials meeting client quality specifications and expectations
  • Investment secured continued contracts with key clients


As part of a Devon-wide contract the Exeter MRF supplies Aylesford Newsprint’s paper mill in Kent with high grade recovered Newsprint, Periodicals and Magazines (News and PAMs).

A few years ago Exeter faced a problem which threatened to jeopardise this relationship and undermine the goal of maximising the city’s recycling rate.

At the time paper coming to the Exeter plant was sorted manually by eight people in a picking cabin. With relatively low volumes of material to process, paper outputs were of sufficient quality to meet the exacting standards set by Aylesford.

But as environmental awareness grew in the city so Exeter’s householders began recycling more.

Between 2002 and 2007 the volume of material collected at the kerbside almost doubled. The rise in feedstock tonnages meant that quantity started to compromise quality.

We were struggling to remove all the plastic, card and cans so our paper outputs began to get contaminated

Plant Manager, Chris Callister

The quality of Exeter’s News and PAMs was slipping to such an extent that the Council was in danger of defaulting on its contract with Aylesford Newsprint, risking financial penalties. The MRF needed to improve the way it recovered paper.

Find out how the Exeter MRF solved their contamination issues and improved quality of their output material to meet the needs of a key client:


Introduction >>
The problem >>
The solution >>
The results >>

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