Cross Wrap gives McGrath a perfect Finnish

Written by: Geraldine Faulkner | Published:

At the heart of McGrath Group’s refuse-derived and solid recovered fuel production is Cross Wrap’s CW 2200 waste bale wrapper. Geraldine Faulkner reports from the specialist waste management company’s sites in London and Essex which both use the kit

Whether you are for the UK to remain within the EU or firmly against it, a waste management specialist that enjoys excellent relations with a Finnish supplier and which intends to maintain the cordial working relationship whether the UK is ‘in’ or ‘out’ is the McGrath Group.

Based in East London, the McGrath Group is one of the largest waste management companies in the South East of England. Established in 1972 by David, Patrick and Michael McGrath, it was originally a provider of skip hire services to the local community.

Since then two of its founders, David and Patrick McGrath, remain hands-on executive directors and have turned the business into a multi-disciplined group. So much so, the McGrath Group now employs 200 staff, has a turnover in excess of £30 million and comprises two companies. These are McGrath Bros, which specialises in waste management and recycling, and Demo One, whose focus is on demolition and asbestos management.

Adapting to the times

Plant director Gerry Vines has worked in the McGrath Group’s waste management division for more than 20 years and says that over the past decade he has seen a transformation within the waste industry.

“The whole job has changed totally in the past 10 years,” he recalls. “Everything used to go to landfill. Now if you want to survive in the waste sector, you have to look to the future all the time. Luckily for us, Dave McGrath is very good at looking to the future. If it wasn’t for his foresight and investment in new technologies we wouldn’t be in such a strong position to deal with the ever-changing waste recycling industry.

Since 2011, when McGraths installed Cross Wrap’s CW 2200 waste bale wrapper to produce high-specification fuel for energy plants, the waste management firm has specialised in the production of refuse-derived fuel (RDF) and solid recovered fuel (SRF), which is transported to the company’s partner network of energy processing facilities.

“It is the main outlet for our waste,” explains Vines. “Our RDF is intended for power generation and is sent to countries like Holland, Germany and Sweden.”

Producing approximately 250 bales per shift, each weighing between 950 to 1,100kg each, McGraths use Cross Wrap’s bale wrapper to ensure each bale reaches its destination securely and in one piece.

“Consignments tipped at the McGrath materials recycling facilities in London and Essex are processed to extract any metallic or mineral items. The non-mineral residues are then bulked using the integrated baler and Cross Wrap wrapping line into durable bales for safe and secure transportation to waste-to-energy processing facilities,” adds the plant director.

Satu Kivelä, MD of Finland-based Cross Wrap, says she has seen an exponential rise in the interest in bale-wrapping machinery.

The growing demand for waste-based fuels like RDF creates the need for such materials to be produced, stored, transported and handled in an environmentally friendly and safe manner . Wrapped bales provide a logistic solution, benefiting both the waste processing facilities, waste to energy and cement plants,” says Kivelä.

Vines was tasked with finding the best bale wrapper on the market and recalls the research he carried out.

“We looked at three other potential suppliers as well as Cross Wrap, and while they were very much the same price-wise, we were really impressed with Cross Wrap’s bale wrapper,” remembers the plant director, before explaining what made the Finnish machine stand out from the crowd.

“It operates on a system so that when each bale of materials is spun around to be wrapped, it turns on the conveyor, as opposed to other manufacturers’ designs where the bale spins on conveyors and you end up with bits of rubbish falling off,” says Vines.

Reliability personified

Another plus for the plant director is that the Cross Wrap bale wrapper at McGraths’ Barking site simply doesn’t break down. “We’ve never had any problems with the Cross Wrap machine. It has proved itself to be the most reliable piece of equipment in our waste line.”

Vines pauses for a moment before admitting: “The only issues we have had have been self-inflicted. Otherwise it gets serviced four times a year by Recycling Engineering, who are Cross Wrap’s sub-contractors. They keep all the spare parts in the UK and we have no problem in getting them and they are always reasonably priced.”

Low running costs is another aspect of the Cross Wrap bale wrapper that goes down well with Vines. “It offers flexibility in that you can run it so that each bale can have one or 10 wraps, and bearing in mind that a roll of plastic is £40, you have to be on the ball to ensure each bale has just the right number of wraps. Basically, there is a fine line because if you split a bale, you have to go back again and put the materials through the system again, which increases costs. With Cross Wrap you can preset four to five menus in it. The number of wraps required for a bale varies from three to five or even seven, depending on what each customer wants.”


Indeed, McGraths are so pleased with the performance of Cross Wrap’s bale wrapper, the waste management specialist is currently installing another machine at its Barking site in Essex.

“We have a second machine going in along with a new baler,” says Vines. “There are two reasons. Firstly, we are increasing our output, and secondly to give us some back-up if we’re down for maintenance purposes, otherwise all our eggs are in one basket.”

On a personal level, Vines says he is all for RDF; however, he has reservations about sending it abroad to fuel power plants in countries such as Holland and Germany.

“Perhaps we should be building waste-to-energy power stations in the UK on the scale of the ones in Europe.”

Returning to the indefatigable waste bale wrapper at McGraths’ Barking MRF, Kivelä has the last word: “The wrapping of bales enables RDF and SRF to keep their value while travelling to the end customer. Being an environmentally friendly system, wrapped bales neither litter nor lose material when being handled and transported. They are more economical to transport compared with ‘loose’ waste, because baled and wrapped waste takes up less space when transported and stored.”

Fact File: Cross Wrap CW 2200 waste bale wrapper

• Fully automatic

• Flexible modular structure to adapt to challenging layouts

• Available as a mobile unit

• Suitable for all bale sizes and different materials

• Wide experience of various waste materials such as challenging sea freight wrapping of RDF and SRF

• Compatible with any channel or 2-ram balers. Cross Wrap has provided machines to 22 different baler brands.

• Capacity of up to 80 tonnes per hour

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