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A hygienic waste handling solution

08 March 2020

An automated waste handling solution is enabling Natures Way Foods to hygienically, safely and cost-effectively dispose of food and packaging waste. 

The production of coleslaw and potato salad production process generates waste. Natures Way Foods removes this from high care areas using an automated, enclosed hygienic system. This solution, provided by Seepex, has replaced equipment which was causing ‘bridging’, where product does not pass into the pumping elements, resulting in unacceptable downtime. In addition, some of the waste material proved to be particularly challenging to handle using traditional pumps. 

Over a period of two years, SEEPEX supplied Natures Way Foods with a series of open hopper progressive cavity (PC) pumps with auger feed screws from its T range. The company also supplied its BTM pumps which feature integrated cutting knives, bridge breakers and extended hoppers to chop and pump waste produced from fruits without stones. To handle mango stones, grape vines and other tough waste, it developed a system incorporating an auger feed screw, a vertical cutting device and an open hopper pump.

The success of these solutions led Natures Way Foods  to consult SEEPEX again, when it began developing its coleslaw and potato salad facility. It needed a hygienic waste removal system that could handle different food wastes and also the plastic pots in which they were contained. 

SEEPEX built two waste removal systems – one for packaged food waste, which is sent for anaerobic digestion; and one for the remaining organic waste, which is sent for composting. Any reject products are tipped into tote bins, fitted with level sensors. Once they reach a certain level, the tipper is activated to drop the waste into a bespoke open hopper PC pump system, comprising an auger, a grinder and a pump. The waste is then pumped vertically into the ceiling space before being dewatered and compacted. 

Commenting on the solution, Andy Mays, engineering manager for Natures Way Foods, said: “The sealed waste removal solution has delivered on its promises to reduce costs, reduce labour, keep our manufacturing area clean and compliant, and keep our operatives safe. We can pump waste across a total distance of almost 100m, ensuring our factory stays clean and free from contamination. By removing a manual element from our processes, we are saving on labour, and dewatering and compacting the waste reduces the volume taken off-site, lowering our transport and disposal costs. It has reduced a technical compliance risk too, as there was the potential of new product being contaminated by the old. This solution is, therefore, helping us on a number of different levels.”

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