By Daniel P. Duffy, MSW Management

May 1, 2019


What separates winners from losers in a tight market? Since China declined to take bulk quantities of recyclable materials from the US last year, the recycling market experienced a downturn.

Something similar happened to the recycling industry after the stock market crash and recession of 2008. Though in this earlier case, it was a general drop-off in demand for recycled materials due to a fall in economic activity. In both cases, the demand and price for recyclables were negatively impacted.

The industry winners increase productivity, improve quality, and cut prices.

In addition, this will depend on advances in sorting technology. At the forefront, is advancing sensor technology and optical sensing to achieve the necessary purity levels. Although advanced AI and robotics may one day create a “Smart MRF,” human labor will be paramount. For example, requiring ever-improving levels of training and intelligent, market-focused planning.

Multi-Stream and Single-Stream MRFs

Single-stream MRFs are the opposite of multi-stream MRFs in every important operational characteristics. Instead of receiving multiple streams of waste from various sources, single-stream MRFs receive waste directly from a single source. That single source being the community’s waste collection operations. The commingled material that arrives at a single-stream MRF is far from pure, which gives the facility its other name of “Dirty MRF”.

Single-stream facilities rely on machines to perform sorting and separation operations. Waste arrives at the tipping floor and gets loaded onto a conveyor belt which carries the waste through various removal stations. Each of these stations remove particular material from the waste. These machines perform their operations based on:

  1. Size
  2. Electromagnetic properties
  3. Shape
  4. Weight
  5. Color
  6. And density of the material being removed

Read the full article in the MSW Management May 2019 Issue