Hoovering up road dust, dirt and debris

Written by: Recycling Waste World | Published:

With Autumn in full swing, local authority road sweepers are being kept busy with trees shedding their leaves along with the usual collection of debris on the roads. Freelance writer Claire Col takes a look at the road sweeping options available on the market and the recycling opportunities they offer.

Street cleaning machines have come a long way since Joseph Whitworth invented the first mechanical sweeper in 1843. When once they were just moving brooms, their technology has now advanced considerably, and road sweepers are equipped with high tech machinery to vacuum, scrub and disinfect. 

However, as the waste management sector has seen the list of legislative responsibilities grow ever more complex, the pressure to keep costs at a minimum has also increased, and with a whopping 440,000 tonnes of street sweepings collected across the UK each year, it’s not just sweeping specialists who are looking to reduce landfill. More and more organisations in other sectors are eager to recycle to make better savings. 

Go Plant

One of the systems which claims to do just this is the Gritbuster. 

Paul Langham, MD of Go Plant, providers of operated and self-drive specialist road sweepers, explains how the Gritbuster system can save costs. 

“The vast majority of waste collected through sweeper vehicles is often turned to landfill, with little thought given to its recyclability. Yet the waste collected by road sweepers typically contains between 60% and 75% gravel and sand particles which, once reclaimed, can be put to beneficial use as a recycled aggregate or inert fill, providing a commercially-viable opportunity for waste management companies,” explains Langham.

According to Go Plant, Gritbusters’ compact system can treat and recover 92% of the sweepings it collects to be fully recycled. 

Designed to process 10 to 15 tonnes per hour, the Gritbuster process separates materials in to two categories - those larger than 10mm which typically consist of bottles, cans, and leaves - and those smaller than 10mm, such as sand, fine organics, silt and clay. The bulk of the material recovered by the Gritbuster is washed sand which is then shipped off-site for recycling and can then be used as pipe bedding or secondary aggregate. 

Road debris and large aggregate is recovered separately, along with fine organics produced from the wash screening process.

However, Go Plant says that despite its advantages, investing in such high performance equipment is not necessarily the most commercially viable option, so it pays to know that organisations don’t necessarily have to invest in them to meet sustainability plans. 

“Go Plant provides contract, short-term rental, and operated hire solutions and with its range of competitively-priced solutions, management teams can rest easy,” adds Langham.


Founded in 1979, Scarab is a global supplier of road sweepers, providing a range of stock machines as well as bespoke made for individual requirements. “At Scarab we like to push technology and the sweeping industry forward,” says UK sales manager, Paul Mannering before adding Scarab were pioneers of the environmentally friendly single-engine truck mounted sweeper and were also were the first manufacturer to supply all their sweepers with a CANbus control and diagnostics system.

Scarab’s compact range of road cleaning equipment includes the Scarab Minor road sweeper with its four-brush Sweep system. It now also includes a range of street cleansing vehicles such as Compact Scrubber, the Aquadyne, and a compact high powered washer; the Scarab Aquazura. 

“The Azura is a two front brush mounted sweeper which currently has a Euro 5 power plant as well as increased hopper capacity and enhanced functionality,” explains a company spokesperson. “The Azura also features a scrubber-dryer and street-washer which is both economical and quiet, ma

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