A mechanical biological treatment (MBT) system is a type of waste processing facility that combines a sorting facility with a form of biological treatment such as composting or anaerobic digestion. MBT plants are designed to process mixed household waste as well as commercial and industrial wastes. The terms mechanical biological treatment or mechanical biological pre-treatment relate to a group of solid waste treatment systems. These systems enable the recovery of materials contained within the mixed waste and facilitate the stabilisation of the biodegradable component of the material. Twenty two facilities in the UK have implemented MBT/BMT treatment processes. The sorting component of the plants typically resemble a materials recovery facility. This component is either configured to recover the individual elements of the waste or produce a refuse-derived fuel that can be used for the generation of power. The components of the mixed waste stream that can be recovered include: Ferrous metal Non-ferrous metal Plastic Glass MBT is also sometimes termed biological mechanical treatment (BMT), however this simply refers to the order of processing (i.e., the biological phase of the system precedes the mechanical sorting). MBT should not be confused with mechanical heat treatment (MHT). Materials recovery facility The "mechanical" element is usually an automated mechanical sorting stage. This either removes recyclable elements from a mixed waste stream (such as metals, plastics, glass, and paper) or processes them. It typically involves factory style conveyors, industrial magnets, eddy current separators, trommels, shredders, and other tailor made systems, or the sorting is done manually at hand picking stations. The mechanical element has a number of similarities to a materials recovery facility (MRF). Some systems integrate a wet MRF to separate by density and flotation and to recover and wash the recyclable elements of the waste in a form that can be sent for recycling.
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