CRS NI and Earth Equipment install a new plant at Smith Recycling in Milton Keynes

The HUB recently visited Smith Recycling in Milton Keynes to take a look at the new recycling plant from CRS NI. The Smith site covers 3 acres, employs 45 staff, runs 20 vehicles, and the plant runs at around 70 tonnes per hour at peak times. This busy site is extremely tidy and Site Manager Paul Usher takes a lot of pride in the way this operation is run, with all skip vehicles being washed on a regular basis to keep standards on the site high.

We talked with Paul about the operation “As well as mixed waste, we have a lot of construction & demolition waste coming into the plant. We had an old picking station that did very well, but we eventually outgrew it and needed something else to handle the new volumes. We started to research new plant, and visited a few sites and looked at the best options for us moving forward. We chose CRS NI because of the great ideas that they brought to the table during the detailed discussions we had about what we wanted the plant to do. CRS NI came up with detailed drawings and we all worked together to get the layout the way we needed it to accomplish the smallest footprint possible because of the site constraints. CRS NI and Earth Equipment, CRS NI’s UK dealer were very easy to work with on this and it only took a few weeks before we had bottomed it.”

“This was a complete replacement for what we had before and so we needed it to be managed and installed for us so that we had as little downtime as possible. The new twin line plant consists of a large screen and trommel, two magnets, twin conveyor lines, two ASU units, and a seven bay picking station. We were very specific about what we wanted from the bay layout in the picking station and CRS NI adjusted the design to include two drop-shoots per bay so that one person can pick two materials at any one time. Currently we have 20 staff in there with the potential to have 56, so lots of growth available, and currently we are separating landfill, wood, mixed plastics, plastic film, cardboard, metal and hardcore with a 95% recycling rate.”

Paul added “We are extremely happy with the quality finish of the plant, it has surpassed what we thought it would be capable of, and we are now actively talking to new clients about bringing additional trade waste in. We are really pleased with the system and a key part of the overall solution was the installation time, and CRS NI managed to install the whole plant in 3 weeks, which was brilliant for us.”

We took a tour of the plant, accompanied by Peter McGuinness, Director of Earth Equipment, CRS NI’s UK dealer “The plant that we’ve installed here is basically a C&D and a C&I / household waste plant combined, allowing us to split the waste into two separate lines. All the incoming material is tipped in the main shed, and pre-sorted using a Liebherr material handler, before being loaded into the main hopper by a second Liebherr material handler. The material is then run over a 100mm finger screen. Anything over 100mm is then fed by conveyor up to the C&I line. Anything below 100mm is taken out and transferred to through the trommel. The trommel is set at 40mm, so everything 40mm to 0mm is transferred to a fines clean up plant, and the 40mm plus material is then sent up to the C&D line.”

We moved into the new picking station “The C&D line has a 1,200mm wide conveyor belt and the C&I side, a 1,500mm wide belt, and these belts are designed quite flat which is much easier for picking and cuts down on any staff RSI related injuries. We have emergency stop cables running down the centre of each line, control boxes, and anti-fatigue matting on the floor for staff comfort during picking. We included two drop-shoots per bay so that one person can pick two materials at any one time, and the belts are mirrored so that the material drops into the same bay underneath for that particular material. We have separate hydraulically controlled drop-shoots on the sides of the station for non-ferrous material. Once full, these shoots can be emptied easily by calling for a loading shovel underneath to catch the material, and the simple press of a button. We designed the system so that the speed of the screen, trommel, and picking belts can be securely controlled at all times by the site manager, allowing for the optimum picking speed to be achieved.”

“The two lines now come out of the picking station, here we have an over-band magnet and ASU (air separation unit) on each line to take out ferrous material and lights from the waste stream. The ASU is manufactured by CRS NI and consists of a high-speed rotating drum with an air-knife blowing across it. When the material comes off the conveyor the air-knife blows the light material over the top of the drum, and the heavier material falls down. The key feature with the CRS NI system is that we can move the drum both horizontally and vertically to compensate for wetter material during winter months and very dry material in the summer months.”

Moving down to look at the separated material, Peter also pointed out the attention to detail in the design of the plant “We braced the bottom sections of all the bays underneath with steel so that when the loading shovels are driving into the bays and touching the back, the wear and damage is kept to an absolute minimum. CRS NI are also really flexible with clients, even down to changing the colour of the plant, with no additional charge, and that’s important to us as dealers.”

To learn more about Smiths Recycling please visit

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