Kristin Smith

Kristin is a member of the Recycling Today staff.


Committed to recycling

MRF Series

E.L. Harvey & Son’s commitment to recycling spans more than a century, four generations and several expansions, including its most recent addition, a single-stream MRF.

August 11, 2015

E.L. Harvey & Sons has been serving customers in Massachusetts since 1911. The fourth-generation, family-owned business, founded by Emory Harvey, has made a name for itself throughout the last century by offering hauling and recycling services for commercial, industrial and residential waste and recyclables, including fiber, metal, plastics, electronics and construction and demolition (C&D) debris.

The 2013 addition of a single-stream material recovery facility (MRF) to its portfolio of operations has allowed the company to expand its capabilities and become a “one-stop shop” for its customers.

As Ben Harvey, president of E.L. Harvey, explains, the addition of the single-stream MRF “was an extension of many things that we have always done. It also gave us great growth opportunities in an arena we haven’t focused on in the past.”

With the addition of its single-stream MRF, E.L. Harvey & Sons handles 1,000 tons of material each day at its campuses in Westborough, Hopkinton, Fitchburg and Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.

Timing is everything

E.L. Harvey & Son’s main recycling campus is situated on 100 acres in Westborough. In addition to the 80,000-square-foot single-stream MRF, the campus includes:

  • a 30,000-square-foot recovered paper packing facility;
  • a 20,000-square-foot transfer station for state-approved solid waste destined for incineration;
  • a 20,000-square-foot MRF that sorts cardboard, paper, plastic, wood and metal from commercial and residential material;
  • a 47,000-square-foot mixed C&D recycling facility that recovers aggregate, brick, concrete, wood, metal, cardboard, shingles, drywall and rigid plastics; and
  • a 5,500-square-foot garage for the repair and maintenance of more than 250 vehicles.

E.L. Harvey & Sons began the process to build and permit what would eventually become the single-stream MRF in 2000. It took about six years to get through the state’s permitting process.

“We encountered extreme resistance from multiple neighborhood groups, but through persistence and cooperation we were finally successful,” Harvey says.

By the time the permitting was put in place in 2006, Harvey recalls, “We were unsure exactly what type of processing was going to take place at this location. Couple that with the downturn in the economy about the same time, and we just paused.”

Beginning in 2010, E.L. Harvey was ready to make its move. Following internal discussions, the company decided to install a single-stream processing system.

“We felt that this would complement our other plant operations and would allow us to increase our tonnage by bringing in a stream of materials into the plant that we were not getting,” Harvey says.

He and the executive team at E.L. Harvey began interviewing vendors and looking into the processing capabilities of each manufacturer and the technological enhancements each could provide.

“Our biggest challenge at this point was how many tons per hour we would have to process,” he recalls. “The single-stream material was all going to be new, not material we were currently getting, and we needed to go out to develop this business.”

Harvey explains that the company didn’t want to build a system that had more capacity than it needed initially but also wanted to have the ability to grow. E.L. Harvey decided to install a 25-ton-per-hour system from Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Oregon, with a baler from IPS Balers, Baxley, Georgia. The company recently installed a second baler—a Bollegraaf model from Van Dyk Recycling Systems, Stamford, Connecticut.

While E.L. Harvey was building a single-stream MRF, because the original design was for a waste handling facility, it had to get Authorization to Construct (ATC) and Authorization to Operate (ATO) permits from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP).

Harvey says, “There were numerous requirements that needed to be done throughout the project that slowed the whole process, but eventually we managed to start the install in the spring of 2013, with a startup date in late July or early August 2013.”

Growth potential

Harvey says the company’s goal was to open with 75 to 100 tons per day (TPD), but in light of aggressively pursuing new business, the single-stream facility opened with roughly 150 TPD, which the company quickly grew to 250 TPD.

E.L. Harvey operates one shift per day and, depending on inbound volume, will expand or contract the hours it processes.

Currently, about 95 percent of inbound materials are from residential curbside customers and about 5 percent are commercial recyclables. The residential single-stream materials come from communities in central and eastern Massachusetts, including Westborough, Hopkinton, Grafton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Northborough and Shrewsbury.

Approximately half of the tons that arrive at the facility are hauled by the company’s own fleet, while the other half is contracted with other haulers and municipalities.

Once the recyclables arrive on the tipping floor, they are loaded into a metering bin that provides a steady flow of material to the conveyor that feeds the system. The material goes through a presort, where employees can remove all of the oversized materials along with anything that can harm the equipment. The material then travels over two sets of screens that pull off the old corrugated containers (OCC). Glass also is removed during this stage. The next set of screens removes the remaining fiber.

“The containers that are left continue on to go through the system to be removed either mechanically by magnets, eddy currents or optical [sorters] or manually with positive picks,” Harvey describes. “After enough volume goes to the storage bunkers, the material flows out to the baler.

The single-stream recycling facility accepts all types of fiber, glass, metal/tin cans, colored and natural high-density polyethylene (HDPE), PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and aluminum cans. The facility also accepts other plastics, with the exception of film.

Harvey says the company processed 78,000 tons of single-stream recyclables in 2014 along with 100,000 tons of other materials.

E.L. Harvey & Sons’ philosophy is to grow its business profitably by adding exceptional value for its customers. “We look at opportunities that will help us do this, and if they do, we will implement them into our business,” Harvey says.

The author is an editor for the Recycling Today Media Group and can be reached at


Current Issue

Kristin Smith Archive

Features - Conferences & Events
Features - Demolition Scrap Report
Features - Mixed Waste Processing
Features - Shredding Equipment Focus
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on LinkedIn