The president of the Georgia-Pacific subsidiary hopes his company’s technology will eventually address stagnant recycling rates nationwide. | Courtesy of Georgia-Pacific

Georgia-Pacific’s Juno Technology is testing out plant locations and partnerships through a Seattle pilot project, using its patented wet processing system to reclaim contaminated fiber.

The technology, which targets traditionally unrecyclable fiber, is being put to use in a 12-week pilot project to recycle material sourced from King County, Washington that began on Feb. 28, according to a press release

Juno uses a patented wet waste processing solution that separates, sanitizes and washes fiber contaminated with food and other organic debris. It can handle cups with plastic coatings and paper-based packaging, as well as divert more metals and plastics and send them back into the recycling system. Organics are turned into biogas. 

Christer Henriksson, president of Juno, told Resource Recycling, “We take whatever falls between the cracks and we then get another stab at it.” 

King County, which sits in the heart of the Seattle metro area, estimated that despite “robust curbside recycling programs,” over 600,000 tons of recyclable material end up in landfills every year. The Solid Waste Division is testing how Juno could help reduce that amount, the press release noted. 

Juno has been running a plant on three acres in Toledo, Ore. since 2021, Henriksson said, close to the Georgia-Pacific containerboard facility in the same town. Since then, Juno has tripled landfill diversion rates in Toledo, the press release noted. 

The facility has an annual capacity of 60,000 to 70,000 tons. King County is sending about 1,000 total tons of material to the facility over the 12-week period.  

Pat McLaughlin, King County’s Solid Waste Division director, said in the press release that “mixed waste processing, alongside other waste reduction, prevention and recycling initiatives, has the potential to be an important piece of our long-term plans to reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill and lower our carbon footprint here in King County.”

For Juno, the pilot will also help the company “properly decide on a future plant, potentially, for King County that could then help them divert up to about 90% away from landfills,” Henriksson said. 

Looking at the bigger picture

Recycling rates in the U.S. have largely been stagnant over the past two decades, Henriksson said, and he thinks Juno can help change that. 

“The average recycling rate in the U.S. is in the low 30s, so a good community can hit about 50%,” Henriksson said. “With something like Juno, we could then process the other 50% and recycle it, diverting up to about 90%, so it would be a big needle mover.” 

There’s a lot of interest in Juno right now, Henriksson noted, so the company is targeting communities “that are really interested in diverting waste from landfill” for testing and partnerships.  

Juno is also looking outside the U.S. and Canada at the United Kingdom and Australia as potential areas of expansion. The technology can be set up in a standalone facility or integrated into existing facilities, Henriksson said. 

“Ideally we want to locate future Juno facilities near the sources of waste so you minimize waste transportation,” he said. “Juno plants could be located where you actually have transfer stations in cities.” 

Adding on to existing transfer stations would also minimize disruption and allow haulers to keep their same routes and infrastructure, Henriksson added. 

“We can’t wait to see this rolled out not just in the United States, but also globally,” he said.  

More stories about fiber