EKOCity Center Bochum

Optimised sorting of bulky waste to improve climate protection

Tables, chairs, mattresses, carpets – bulky waste is a colourful assortment of items made from a wide variety of materials, including natural resources. It is thus all the more important to deal with it in an efficient and sustainable way. Especially in an age when short-lived trends and the easy availability of products are causing an increase in the volume of bulky waste, measures must be taken to recover valuable raw materials and substances. In collaboration with the EKOCity Center in Bochum, USB Service GmbH is operating a waste treatment plant, which is now designed to be even more efficient. Through a programme of innovative restructuring, the company is identifying new opportunities and making an important contribution to climate protection.

Germany is a leader in the area of recycling lightweight packaging and municipal household waste. By comparison, the sorting and treatment of bulky waste is less strictly regulated and subsequently also less vigorously implemented. So back in 2005, when the EKOCity Center waste treatment and logistics centre was opened in Bochum, it already represented an important and innovative step towards handling resources in a more responsible way. So far, more than 70,000 tonnes of bulky waste per year have been sorted and processed at the site. The plant is now being refurbished to ensure that the steadily increasing volume of bulky waste is properly processed, to meet the high quality standards required for reclaimed wood, as well as to organise processes more efficiently.

Engine for progress:

  • Unique approach to processing bulky waste
  • Innovative combination of commercial and bulky waste sorting processes
  • Resource conservation as a result of recovering reusable materials
  • Energy production is made more efficient due to the clear separation of bulky waste

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Photo: USB Service GmbH

At the EKOCity Center in Bochum, commercial and bulky waste from the association’s collection area is sorted and processed. The plant has recently undergone major modifications and in future it will be able to process the different types of waste more efficiently and in a way that consumes less energy.

Processing bulky waste: future-oriented and efficient

In addition to bulky waste, the EKOCity Center also processes commercial waste. The modification of the commercial waste sorting system following an update to the Commercial Waste Ordinance was taken as an opportunity to examine both sorting systems and exploit potential synergies in order to redesign the processes to be more efficient and future-oriented. As a result, the bulky waste treatment system was expanded to include several new separation processes (four separators for heavy/light items, a drum screening machine) and further, additional separation equipment (an NIR separator, a non-ferrous metal separator, two magnetic separators), which made the sorting process more efficient. Another new addition is a sorting chamber where valuable materials or impurities are separated manually. As well as different metals and wood, other materials including foil, paper, plastics, textiles and especially impurities can now be separated more accurately. In addition, the two separate lines for sorting bulky waste and commercial waste were combined in two steps of the process: bulky waste and commercial waste are now both processed in the manual sorting chamber and also pass through the conveyor belts for removing heavy materials such as stones, glass, ceramics and heavy wooden products.

Bulky waste: resource for energy and new products

In future, up to 90,000 tonnes of bulky waste per year can now be treated at the EKOCity Center. The optimised sorting process allows more efficient further processing. For example, fuels are generated from different substances: alternative, secondary or wood fuels. If utilised in the corresponding specialised power plants, they produce more electricity than if they are used together in a waste incineration plant. Furthermore, plastics, metals and wood are recovered and recycled, so no new materials need to be produced here. In total, the processing system allows a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 5,000 tonnes per year. What is more, around 1,309 spruce trees can be protected from deforestation as a result of the recovery and further material use of the discarded wood.

Photo: USB Service GmbH

"We are working with EKOCity Center to organise the plant to meet the demands of the circular economy. Ideally, we salvage waste to provide the base products for new value chains. The term ‘waste’ will be thought of differently in the future and we are paving the way for this with the new EKOCity Center."

Dr Thorsten Zisowski, Commercial Director, USB Service GmbH