Georgia-Pacific (GP), Atlanta, has begun operations at its GP Toledo material recovery facility (MRF) in Toledo, Oregon. The MRF has applied GP’s Juno technology, which is designed to recycle highly contaminated recovered fiber and mixed materials.
Christer Henriksson, president of Juno Technology at Georgia-Pacific, says GP has been piloting Juno since 2013 at a plant in Savannah, Georgia, and began construction on its Toledo MRF about two years ago.
“The pilot plant was used to prove our concept of recycling municipal solid waste, typically called MSW,” he says. “That MSW goes to landfills today. We have tested hundreds of different kinds of MSW—airport waste, Class A office building waste, theme park waste, sports stadium waste. It was about understanding the different kinds of waste materials. The lessons learned from the pilot plant allowed us to find necessary patents for Juno technology and to design and scale-up a commercial plant in Toledo.”
Henriksson says construction was going on in the middle of the pandemic, which he adds wasn’t easy. Forest fires on the West Coast also made startup a little difficult. Despite the challenges, he says construction finished on time in the spring of 2021.
As of May, the Toledo MRF has been up and running, processing commercial MSW from accounts throughout Oregon. Henriksson says the plant has the capacity to process about 100,000 tons of material per year and has the potential to recycle up to 90 percent of all material that comes into the MRF.
An automated process
Processes at the GP Toledo MRF differ a little from those at a traditional single-stream MRF. For one, the MRF is very automated. Henriksson says the company only needs 10 employees to run the plant, which operates 24/7.
He adds that the facility uses a technology called “autoclaving,” which is typically used by hospitals to sterilize waste materials. “We use that technology to cook and sanitize the incoming waste,” he says.
After the autoclave, separation technologies sort materials into different commodity streams, such as paper, plastics and metals. Henriksson says all recovered fiber materials will be consumed by GP’s containerboard mill in Toledo, which is located next to the MRF. He says that fiber will be used to make linerboard for corrugated boxes. Other items, such as metals and plastics, are sold in their respective markets.
Henriksson says about 10 percent of the MSW that can’t be recovered at the Toledo MRF is sent to landfill. That includes materials such as glass, dirt and fines that can’t be captured.
GP says it plans to construct more plants that incorporate its Juno technology around the globe. Henriksson says the company is looking to add a second MRF using Juno technology in the Northeast U.S., a third MRF using the technology in Europe and a fourth location using the technology in Asia. “We plan to start engineering the next two sites before the end of this year,” he says.
Henriksson adds that he doesn’t envision GP’s Juno technology will ever replace MRFs; rather, he says, the goal is to reduce what goes to landfill.
“[Juno] is a disruptive technology for the landfill industry,” he says. “We see there is a lot of demand because it’s very hard to build new landfills. People are shipping their MSW a long way to get to landfills because they are not typically located near cities. But future Juno plants will be built close to where waste is generated, such as large cities. As we reveal this technology globally, we will work with municipalities that have a similar mission as we do for protecting the environment.”