By Lori Lovely at MSW Management

May 1, 2015


There are many aspects to consider when building a new Material Recovery Facility.

Before breaking ground, letting to bid, and even issuing RFPs, many consult experts to help define their needs for a MRF. Bob Rella and Deb Frye, senior vice presidents at HDR Engineering—national practice leaders for solid waste facilities, specializing in structural/civil and mechanical, respectively—have worked with many clients, providing oversight and helping develop projects. Their recommendations are independent of vendors because their experience in the industry can anticipate vendor input and modify based on the vendor selected.

First, says Frye, choose a site. “We search for available property, taking into account the minimum number of acres needed,” she says.

Rella adds, “The site drives the plan. There may be unusable portions due to wetlands, for example. Each one is unique.”

Site Unseen
It’s important to understand the realities of the site, agrees Evan Williams, an architect with Cambridge Companies. He mentions a project in Las Vegas where part of the property was in a flood zone. “We couldn’t do anything there,” he says.

It’s important to do a proper site assessment and know the site’s history. “You have to be aware of contamination issues, buried structures, and the impact on the surrounding properties,” explains Williams. “You don’t want groundwater issues, either.”

Pits for equipment can run 9 feet deep, with footings as deep as 11 feet. An area with a high water table could pose problems.

Access to highways, proximity to collection routes, and even the type of road material, which must be capable of handling heavy truck weights, are things to consider in site selection. Access to public transportation is also relevant because some employees may rely on it.

That same Nevada project encountered access issues due to high traffic on the main road, and because the site fronts onto an industrial street, a completely enclosable building had to be oriented to keep wind and sightlines away from the tip area. Best practices dictate that the doors are not visible from the road and the doors are oriented according to prevailing winds. Remember to be a good neighbor by taking into consideration noise, odor, and traffic generated by the facility, and plan accordingly to reduce impact.

Read the full article in the MSW Management May Edition