Photo credit: Sven Eberlein

Photo credit: Sven Eberlein

Upgrades to a San Francisco materials recovery facility have boosted throughputs by nearly 40 percent and ensured the adaptability needed to confront an evolving ton. Recology, which operates the state-of-the-art facility, provided Resource Recycling with details of the major upgrade.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in North America, sortation line upgrades have helped other MRFs clean up recovery commodity streams for their end users.

Higher throughputs, more flexibility

Recology, one of the country’s largest haulers, recently completed an $11.6 million upgrade to its Recycle Central MRF in San Francisco.

An employee-owned company headquartered in the city, Recology calls it the “most modern recycling line in the country” and “the backbone of San Francisco’s recycling program for bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, and other recyclables.”

“Recology and the city of SF together are choosing to invest in the improvement of our recycling systems so as to recover more resources in our community,” according to a statement from Recology. “As others are slowly divesting from recycling plants or potentially recycling in general, Recology and San Francisco feel it’s important to not only maintain recycling infrastructure but enhance its abilities so that more of the materials being discarded can be recovered and put to their next best and highest use.”

Located on Pier 96, the 200,000-square-foot facility is now capable of sorting about 630 tons per day. The upgrade boosted the line’s capacity by 170 tons per day, a 37 percent increase. The improvements included the installation of multiple pieces of equipment: An advanced drum feeder for inbound material, presort line with 14 sorting stations, three-deck mechanical star screen for OCC separation, two spinning disk screens for fibers, two new optical sorters, a patented rotary air lock pneumatic recovery system and a glass clean-up system.

Equipment details

– Three-deck star screen: The separation of three-dimensional containers occurs on a two-deck inclined fiber screen. Glass separation is further accomplished with a glass crusher and additional shaker screens.

– Optical sorters: Two new Titech optical sorters join two existing ones, said Robert Reed, Recology spokesman. The optical sorters, provided by Tomra, are targeting plastics coded Nos. 1-7, 3-7, PET, HDPE, PP, fibers and aseptic packaging.

– Glass clean-up: Separation of glass from similarly sized paper, metal and plastic occurs in Titus’s patented glass cleaning system, which utilizes screens, magnets and air to generate a three-mix glass commodity. The system replaces one more than a decade old.

The improvements were completed by two companies, Titus MRF Services and Van Dyk Recycling Solutions. They ensured the MRF continued to operate during the upgrade, the new system was integrated with the existing one and the project was completed within a tight timeframe, according to Reed.

The new equipment was made by Titus, Van Dyk, Bollegraaf and Titech (owned by Tomra). The following existing equipment remains part of the system, Reed said: sorted material storage areas, container sorting system and paper baling equipment.

The improvements allows the City by the Bay to adapt to the evolving ton, including an increase in small- and medium-sized boxes from e-commerce and lighter plastic food and drink packaging, according to a Recology press release.

“The new line will also provide the flexibility to recover new materials in the future,” the release states.

The MRF on Pier 96 has drawn interest internationally. Over the past four years, delegations from 82 countries have toured Recycle Center.

Freelance photographer Sven Eberlein toured the facility and assembled a photo essay exploring the improvements. Click here to see his work.

Relieving pressure on sorters

A large investment at a MRF in Quebec, Canada has allowed it to produce cleaner streams of paper, plastics and aluminum.

A MRF owned by EBI Environnement in Joliette, Quebec underwent a $3 million Canadian (about $2.27 million) upgrade from Machinex. The upgrade included a ballistic separator and three optical sorters. The improved system began operating Sept. 12.

“For EBI Environnement, continuous improvement of our way of doing things and equipment are the center of our preoccupations,” Audrey Castonguay, director of communications at EBI, stated in a press release. “With our new equipment we can increase the overall quality of material recovered, particularly with fibers, plastic and aluminum containers.”

Equipment included in the upgrade included the following: ballistic separator, ferrous metal magnet, eddy current separator, and three Mach Hyspec optical sorters. The first optical sorter cleans newspaper, the second ejects PET and fibers and the third sorts HDPE and mixed plastics.

Previously, employees had to manually sort an enormous quantity of materials, according to Machinex. The equipment allows clean streams so the downstream manual sorters can now focus on quality control.

Generating cleaner cullet

Retrofits at a Midwest glass processing facility are allowing glass users to receive less contaminated feedstocks.

The $1 million project at Rumpke Waste & Recycling’s Dayton, Ohio glass facility has meant cleaner cullet bound for bottle and fiberglass manufacturers. The facility processes about 60,000 tons of glass per year.

The project included the installation of extended conveyors, an enhanced dust-collection system and technology to remove fines such as paper labels, dust, dirt and other organic materials. Rumpke held a grand opening ceremony for the improvements on America Recycles Day, Nov. 15.

“By creating this system Rumpke has developed the infrastructure to reduce the amount of trash going to the landfill while creating jobs and raw materials needed by our manufacturers,” Steve Sargent, Rumpke’s director of recycling, stated in a press release.

Glass entering the facility comes from residential curbsides and commercial customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Glass accounts for up to one-fifth of the recycling weight collected by Rumpke.

The retrofit project received financial assistance from the City of Dayton and the Ohio EPA in the form of a collaborative $50,000 grant. Rumpke also benefitted from intellectual and research support from University of Dayton students who have helped assess the process and material quality and identify improvements.

The Dayton glass processing facility was featured in the print edition of Resource Recycling as the August 2016 MRF of the Month.


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