View inside a MRF.

MRF operators across the country are making big moves. | Nordroden/Shutterstock

Sims and Balcones have merged, and an Arizona MRF is back four years after it was gutted in a fire. 

MRF operators join forces

Two Closed Loop Partners portfolio MRF operators have merged: Balcones Resources and Sims Municipal Recycling have combined to become “Balcones Recycling.”

The single company holds 14 county and municipal contracts – including those of New York City; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; and San Antonio. Balcones Recycling brings new branding, but operationally everything will remain the same, according to Closed Loop.

“The biggest impact to the company’s partners will be access to a larger group of experts when creating and delivering custom recycling programs,” Balcones stated in a release.

The stage has been set for the merger for some time. Closed Loop acquired Balcones in 2019 and Sims Municipal Recycling in 2022, and the investment firm housed both companies under its “Circular Services” umbrella. Closed Loop has described Circular Services as the largest privately held recycling company in North America. Other companies under the Circular Services umbrella include organics-focused HomeBiogas and e-scrap and textiles collector Retrievr.

Balcones Recycling is led by CEO Tom Outerbridge (formerly of Sims) and President Adam Vehik (formerly of Balcones Resources).

Funding for a Chicago MRF

Lakeshore Recycling Systems has sold $100 million in revenue bonds, providing a funding source the recycling operator will put towards its recently opened Chicago MRF, dubbed “The Exchange.”

The MRF opened in August 2023, supported by an investment from Closed Loop Partners. It’s the third time Closed Loop has invested in LRS.

The newly announced bonds were issued through the Illinois Finance Authority’s Solid Waste Disposal Revenue Bond Program, which issues tax-exempt bonds on behalf of privately owned waste and recycling firms. The bonds typically have interest rates lower than standard financing options.

In a release, LRS Chief Financial Officer Luke Chenery said the bond sale “provides LRS with long-term, fixed-rate financing, enabling our ongoing investments in essential recycling and solid waste infrastructure in Illinois.” LRS plans to increase the MRF’s processing capacity from 25 tons per hour up to 35 tons per hour in the future.

Rebuilding from the ashes

A single-stream Republic Services MRF in Scottsdale, Ariz. that was destroyed in a 2019 fire has been rebuilt and expanded.

Equipment supplier Machinex Technologies on Nov. 16 announced the reopening of the River Recycling MRF, which is located adjacent to Republic’s Salt River Landfill. Machinex supplied the facility with ballistic separators, optical sorters, an AI sorting system and an eddy current separator.

The rebuilt Republic MRF has a processing capacity of 40 tons per hour, up from 25 tons per hour when it burned in 2019. It has more optical sorters than the previous facility, focused on reducing contamination on the paper and container lines. The SamurAI system is positively sorting natural HDPE after optical sortation on the HDPE line.

According to local news, the October 2019 fire was sparked by a lithium-ion battery overheating and catching fire. Just a few months earlier, Republic had completed a multimillion-dollar investment in upgrades at the facility, which handles recyclables from Scottsdale and other nearby municipalities.

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