ACC report evaluates mixed waste processing technologies

Report finds that technologies used in modern MRFs are being integrated successfully into mixed waste processing facilities.


A report released May 31, 2016, by the Plastics Division of the Washington-based American Chemistry Council finds the main technologies used in modern recycling plants, known as material recovery facilities (MRFs), are being integrated successfully into mixed waste processing facilities (MWPFs).

Both types of facilities aim to divert postuse materials from landfills by maximizing the recovery of marketable commodities. However, MRFs and MWPFs differ in that the former require recyclables to be removed from the waste stream prior to processing, usually through residential collection programs, while MWPFs extract recyclables directly from municipal solid waste.

“Recycling is a critical part of how we make the most of the earth’s limited resources,” says Craig Cookson, ACC senior director of recycling and energy recovery. “But when it comes to meeting the diverse needs of our communities, there’s no one size fits all. Mixed waste processing can offer a unique set of solutions for areas with a high percentage of multifamily homes or that lack funding to operate separate collection programs for recycling.”

Authored by Gershman, Brickner & Bratton Inc. (GBB), Fairfax, Virginia, “Supplemental Report: The Evolution of Mixed Waste Processing Facilities—Technology and Equipment Guide” examines 10 types of equipment, such as optical sorting systems; bag openers, which liberate materials from closed plastic trash bags; air separation systems and densifiers, for example. The evaluations typically include the quality of the finished product, the volumes that are captured versus those that are lost and the speed at which the processing equipment works.

This technology and equipment guide builds on a prior report, “The Evolution of Mixed Waste Processing Facilities, 1970-Today,” released in June 2015.