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Westferry puts waste to good use

WHEN Westferry Printers decided to move on from its Isle of Dogs printing site in London’s East End, the company had much more to consider than just investing in new buildings and printing presses. Westferry also had to think carefully about how to decommission its old site responsibly.

Although the long term future of the site is yet to be determined, it was decided to remove all 18 Goss folders, print units and 92 reelstands, plus all pre-press, reelhandling, inserting and post-press equipment and all plant, boilers, chillers, airhandlers and so on. Some companies might have approached this with the sole aim of achieving the removal as quickly and cheaply as possible. However, Westferry management wanted to ensure that what – and how – the equipment was removed was carried out in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Westferry operations manager Mick Crawley (pictured), project manager for the new Luton site and the decommissioned Docklands plant says: “We’d been on the Isle of Dogs site since 1985 and we really felt that we had a duty of care not only in how we removed the equipment and any waste materials but to do it in a way that minimised any negative impact on the local environment and population.

“A full assessment of the production plant on the site was undertaken to decide what could be re-utilised at other print sites. Equipment that could be utilised elsewhere was either refurbished or maintained on site and then subsequently dismantled as necessary to enable transport to the new owners.”

The traditional way of dismantling printing presses is to erect specialist hydraulic lifting gantry systems over each press line. The units are then broken down into the biggest allowable components loads and then transported to scrap metal companies for recycling. General waste such as plastics and glass would normally be sent to landfill sites. Although effective, this approach means that the company decommissioning its site has no real knowledge of what happens to its waste materials once they have left the site.

Westferry decided to look at alternative methods of removing the equipment that would not only be cost-effective but that would also potentially have less impact on the environment. Just what would happen to the 130 waste streams after they left the site was analysed and Westferry developed a strategy to achieve the dismantling process in a more proactive way.

When developing the decommissioning strategy Westferry had to take a wide range of issues into consideration including:

  • Reducing the number of lorries to reduce potential air pollution
  • Minimising general waste that would normally go to landfill
  • Maximising the recycling opportunities into specific streams before leaving site
  • Maximising the potential financial return on selling ferrous and non-ferrous metals 
  • Minimising the impact on the local area
  • Understanding what the waste materials would be used for once processed.

Working closely with Aktrion and Corporate Assets, Westferry developed an environmentally friendly solution. The proposal was to break down and dismantle the presses into the smallest possible component parts and then segregate the metals and store them into appropriate containers.

“Although this approach was more expensive we decided to adopt it as, not only did it fulfil a social responsibility of employing more people, it also offered far greater environmental benefits by stripping down as much on site as possible,” says Crawley.

Fundamentally, printing presses are made from ferrous and non-ferrous metals. By collecting the two metals separately, Westferry was able to ensure that they were sent to the appropriate specialist waste companies. In addition to cutting back on road miles, this also results in much higher recovery yields.

All the waste oil from the Isle of Dogs site was collected and taken to a licenced waste carrier for processing. The oil was then cleaned and reused for heating and bio fuels.

All UPVC plastics were collected and transferred to a waste processing plant while all cables were stripped on site, with the metal segregated into bins. The resulting plastic was sent to a specialist plastics company.

Another valuable waste product is glass which can often end up in landfill. Westferry collected all glass into one container where it was then crushed into a powder and used for building aggregates.

Crawley says: “In conjunction with our partners we have ensured that the entire project was carried out in the best way to minimise increased burdens on the environment. 

“It’s good to understand that the waste from the demise of the Isle of Dogs site is being utilised in making new products and there has been a proactive effort to consider the impacts of recycling.”

  • The 42-week contract was awarded by Northern and Shell to dismantle 18 Goss T70 and T60 presses, ancillary mailroom equipment and plant. The work – involving 7,500 tonnes of what is now scrap metal – was awarded to Aktrion working in association with Corporate Assets, a company of 40 years’ experience in equipment refurbishment, asset disposal, relocations and storage, mainly in the catering sector. 
  • A team of 40 specialist dismantlers from Harlow, Essex-based Corporate Assets, led by chief executive Anthony Lambert, carried out the decommissioning and performing the project management role, with Aktrion as principal contractor.

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