Recycling firm’s plans to expand

Equipment: Sterecycle's newest autoclave.
Equipment: Sterecycle's newest autoclave.
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Innovative waste recycling and renewable energy company Sterecycle is planning to almost double the capacity of its Rotherham plant and open a new plant in Wales if it succeeds in a bid to secure a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company recently increased the capacity of its Rotherham plant to process ‘black bag’ household and trade waste from 100,000 tonnes to 130,000 tonnes a year, with the help of a £5.1 million cash injection before Christmas.

Now it is planning to boost capacity to 175,000 tonnes by installing a materials recovery plant.

The plant will remove and sort different types of plastics, paper, cardboard and cloth before they reach the revolutionary processing technology Sterecycle has developed that turns the rest of the waste into a soil-like substance, which the company calls Sterefibre.

At present, plastic, metal and cloth can only be removed and sorted once it has been through the giant rotating pressure ovens – known as autoclaves – which turn the rest of the material into Sterefibre.

Removing and sorting the material beforehand makes it more valuable to recyclers and will increase the percentage of material Sterecyle recyles from aound 70 to 80 per cent

It will also boost the capacity of Sterecycle’s processing equipment by reducing the amount of material in a load which cannot be turned into Sterefibre.

Sterecycle says that the further investment a Canadian listing could bring would allow it to increase the amount of waste processed by its Rotherham plant to 240,000 tonnes a year and provide funding for a similar development in Cardiff, for which it already has planning permission.

Chief executive Tom Shields says Sterecycle is seeking to list in Canada because the Canadian market is highly supportive of green businesses and Sterecycle has already been successful in attracting substantial investment from institutional and private investors in Canada.

The Toronto Stock Exchange offers a company of Sterecycle’s size the prospect of good liquidity for its shares.

Sterecycle is also interested in making its autoclave technology available in North America, but says that is not the main reason for the steps it is taking to secure a Canadian listing.

Sterecycle uses rotating ovens, fed with steam at 130°C and several times atmospheric pressure to turn waste into Sterefibre, which can be used as top soil for land reclamation or for growing biofuel crops.

Sterefibre can also used as a fuel itself in combined heat and power plants or turned into biogas in anaerobic digestion plants.

Sterecycle’s Rotherham plant opened in June 2008 as the world’s first commercial autoclave waste treatment facility and now employs more than 51 people, operating three autoclaves.