February 28, 2019

When the rubber leaves the road

Meet Mo and learn what happens when the rubber leaves the road

Finding solutions that are economical and incorporate elements of the Circular Economy can sometimes be complicated, sometimes they are not complicated at all, and other times, they are downright ingenious.

Mohammed Thanvi (Mo) is a maintenance supervisor who manages the day-to-day maintenance of a 65,000 sq/ft material recovery facility (MRF). The MRF houses a plethora of conveyor belts, sorters, separators, sensors and a seemingly endless array of moving parts.

It’s a big job to maintain a plant of this size and complexity. “Yes, there is the day-to-day things of fix this and change that, those things just come naturally with the territory,” says Mo. “But, what I love, what I’m passionate about is creating new things, this is my specialty, it’s my sport!”

One of these things that Mo is referring to is a broom. It seems simple enough, but when 15 plus tractor trailer loads of recyclable material are dumped on the plant’s tipping floor every day, it creates a bit of a mess. Cleaning this up costs  time, and is labour intensive. To solve this problem, Mo and his team created a giant, industrial strength floor sweeper - a broom. 

What makes this floor sweeper so ingenious is that it is a real life and simple solution that contributes to the Circular Economy. “The floor sweeper is made out of an old truck tire which was cut in half and mounted to a bracket system,” explains Jagdeep Kabarhwal, plant manager. “The way it’s designed, we can drive it through the plant with a fork lift. The rubber easily maneuvers on the cement floor without causing any damage and sweeps up all the recyclable material from the floor.”

Along with the recovered tire, the bracket system is also constructed from scrap tubing and metal from the plant making this a sustainable and economical solution to an everyday operational task.

A product like this touches on three different Circular Economy business models. The first of these models is ‘Recover and Recycle.’ By creating this floor sweeper, we are taking a product that has seemingly reached the end of its intended life and we are using it for a new purpose.

The second model this floor sweeper represents is, ‘Product Life Extension.’ With the tire no longer useful as a tire, we are extending its life by using it in another application. Finally, when this tire has completed its life as a floor sweeper, it will be shipped to Emterra Tire Recycling where the steel, fibre and rubber components will be recovered, reused and transformed into crumb rubber - completing the 'Circular Supply Chain.’

“I love seeing people using the floor sweeper in the plant,’ adds Mo. “It’s just a piece of tire, but it cleans the floor without any physical involvement; its amazing!”

Jagdeep and Mo have been sharing their latest invention with the rest of the Emterra team and now other plants across Emterra are creating sustainable, industrial strength floor sweepers for their plants too.

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