A trommel fines way to save cash

A trommel fines way to save cash

Following considerable changes to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) landfill tax regime, the importance of reducing landfill volume is becoming a growing issue within the waste management and recycling industries.

Before May 2012, the idea of paying the full rate of landfill tax on ‘trommel fines’ was virtually unheard of. Landfill disposal of fine graded materials was charged at a flat rate of £2.50 per tonne, meaning further grading and reuse was generally overlooked.

However, with the new reclassification of waste, disposal of these same materials will now be charged at the full rate of £64. Furthermore, waste or material used to cover landfill cells before they are capped will also be taxed at the full rate if they do not comply with the regulations as ‘inert’.

While some industry professionals claim that the new trommel fines laws will be a disaster for the recycling industry, others view it as an opportunity to adopt new processes and minimise unnecessary landfill bulk.

With so many different options, choosing a suitable approach for your organisation is key. Here, MRW discusses a variety of techniques to help you minimise waste volume and avoid costly recycling trommel fines.


Two popular ways to reduce landfill bulk volume are by using recycling trommels and star screens. We spoke to Chris Pearson, MD of Pearson Star Screens Ltd, to find out the benefits of using a star screening method.

Q: What is star screen grading?

Star screens are primarily designed to handle pre-shredded or pre-screened waste. Typically, the material will already have passed through a primary screen, such as recycling trommels. The rotating stars break up waste material and sort the waste, to the required size. Machines are adjustable, which allows the operator to fine-tune the grading whilst the plant is in operation.

Q: What are the benefits of using star screens?

The grading action of star screens allows wet and matted materials to be effectively broken down. In more traditional separating screens, such as vibrating decks and flip flows, wet material can cause blockages, meaning smaller material can be carried over with the larger material.

Q: What is the expected throughput?

Star screens are sized to suit the rest of the plant. In general, customers can expect throughputs of anything up to 100 tonnes per hour, but this can be raised or lowered according to the volume required.

Q: How can star screen grading help to avoid hefty landfill tax bills?

Using star screens to grade fines is a highly efficient and cost-effective process. Star screening can accurately separate waste material into reusable material, of which over 95% of these materials can be resold or diverted, reducing landfill volume significantly.

Q: How much do star screens cost?

Depending on customer specification, star screens can vary dramatically in price. However, by reselling fines and avoiding landfill tax, the average star screen grader will pay for itself in less than six months.

Q: What about maintenance?

There is nothing to grease, oil or adjust, just a quick visual check every day. Depending on materials, there is no need to change any stars until at least two years after installation.


As well as using Star Screens to sort ‘fines’, Gavin Barnes, recycling projects manager at Tong Engineering gives an overview on how recycling trommels can be an alternative answer to your recycling conundrum.

“There are so many options on the market, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start,” comments Gavin. “For me the key question is what are you looking to sort? If you have a specific product in mind, a star screen would be great, but if you have a more general waste stream –a trommel may be a good option.”

Recycling trommels are an effective screening method for use in many municipal, industrial and mining applications. Common uses include: municipal waste separation, wood chip reclaiming in sludge composting and the separation of sand and dirt from rocks.

Offering huge throughput potential, trommels work by agitating materials through specific grading screens, to effectively separate waste. They can be custom designed, with differing lengths, diameters and screen sizes to suit all kinds of applications. Trommel drums can even be manufactured with different sized screen sections – to sort numerous fines in one process.

Tong Engineering’s rotary recycling trommels use a three phase variable speed drive, inverter driven and supported with trunion wheels and thrust rollers. The added advantage over vibratory screens is that rotary trommels are proficient in wet applications as well as dry, with the lifting and dropping action helping to liberate certain materials to enhance separation. The continuous tumbling action also helps to separate the feed material and allow the ‘fines’ to filter through the holes in the screen plates while rejecting oversize material out of the cylinder end.

Trommels can also feature lifting bars, which help to increase movement of materials around the drum, further agitating and loosening the product to achieve a better and more accurate screen of materials, especially if the product is wet.

Quite often, waste material is delivered to recycling centres in black bags, meaning that in some recycling lines, the bags need to be split open by hand. To avoid this, and to make the recycling process more efficient, bag opener systems can be added to the trommel. These ‘teeth’ allow the bags to be opened within the drum, ready for screening.

Recycling trommel Screens can be specified to meet exact requirements, available in all different lengths and sizes; anything from 20mm upwards.

When thinking about specifying a screening solution, it is important to consider five key areas:

1) What do you want to achieve?
2) What are you sorting? Will this change?
3) What space is available for the equipment?
4) Logistics of running the equipment – Is there enough space for inputting and collecting materials.
5) What budget is available?

A common use for trommels is to remove glass from waste streams. Glass, as a material, can be recycled over and over again, enhancing the benefits in the long term. Furthermore, scope for the use of recycled glass is incredibly diverse, allowing businesses to make significant amounts of money from its sale. Recycled glass can be sold on and used in many areas, including the manufacture of bricks, fibreglass, sports turf, tarmac and aggregates.

For more information about specifying trommels, please don’t hesitate to contact Tong Recycling on +44(0)1790 752771 to get advice on ways to recycle ‘fines’ effectively, and avoid landfill taxes.

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