Innovative dirty MRF, Roseville, California, USA


Courtesy of Machinex Industries Inc.

Northern California's Placer County has been on the fast track, according to U.S. Census data, with its population surging over 30% between 2000 and 2008. That kind of growth can add up to a whole lot of municipal, residential, and commercial waste.

Eric Oddo, Senior Civil Engineer with the Western Placer Waste Management Authority (WPWMA), a regional agency providing waste disposal and recycling services for the county and the cities of Lincoln, Rocklin, and Roseville, explains that the MRF owned by the WPWMA must meet California's state-mandated recycling goals. That means that everything that comes to the site is processed, with recyclable materials-wood, greenwaste, metal, plastic, glass, and many types of paper-diverted for resale throughout in the world and nonrecyclable items sent to the landfill for disposal.

On the drawing board, the project's goals were to increase diversion by approximately 20% and to expand processing capacity from 1,000 tons of trash per day to over 2,000 tons. Nortech, the plant operators has been turned to Machinex, to handle design and construction of the project's municipal solid waste recycling facility. Based Quebec, Canada, Machinex is noted for its design of machinery for material recycling facilities and the integration of mechanical and optical technologies.

What set this project apart from the rest was its advanced level of sophistication, explains Paul Szura, Nortech's General Manager. It was a highly collaborative effort from the get-go, with Machinex staff using input from Nortech and the WPWMA to design a system that employed new screening technology. The facility can handle cardboard, newspaper, mixed waste paper, glass, aluminum, steel, mixed plastics, and containers made with HDPE (high-density polyethylene) or PET (polyethylene terephthalate). And by pushing the envelope, Machinex produced a highly flexible design that incorporated features previously found most often only in clean MRFs. 'We all learned a lot,' says Oddo, while Szura notes that Machinex professionals 'went above and beyond' to take the concept from drawing board to reality.

Interestingly, the system Machinex designed is most commonly found in clean MRFs, Oddo notes. This is one of the first times that this combination of technologies has been used in this type of installation. 'It definitely changed how we process waste,' he adds. 'And after viewing our system, other communities are beginning to reconsider their methods for sorting waste and achieving diversion.'

The new MRF processing area and recyclables warehouse opened its doors in 2007 after a year of construction and six to eight months of equipment installation and testing. In addition to achieving substantial savings, the WPWMA has been able to increase the diversion rate and save landfill space.

It is successfully keeping nearly 50% of 'what comes in the gate' out of the landfill, according to Eric Oddo. WPWMA's recovery rate is much improved, exceeding the targeted diversion rate by 8 percentage points on average. And were it not for the languishing economy's effect on export markets for certain materials, such as newsprint, that figure would probably be at least 10 to 12 percentage points above the WPWMA's diversion target.

The facility, which provides jobs for some 240 employees, also continues to attract industry attention for its remarkable flexibility, which allows the operator to respond to the needs of the wasteshed and the vagaries of the worldwide recycling market. Compared to other facilities, WPWMA operators can be ready overnight to accommodate changes in the waste stream or fluctuations in recycler demand. It's clearly not your father's MRF!

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