The city of Montgomery, Alabama, plans to reopen its material recovery facility (MRF) after it has been idled for about two years. Infinitus Energy closed the MRF in October 2015 after it served as a mixed waste processing facility for about two years.
Chris Conway, director of public works in Montgomery, says the facility had previously been operated by I-REP (Infinitus Renewable Energy Park). However, a decline in the market for recycled commodities had forced I-REP into bankruptcy, and Conway says the city retained ownership of the facility. So, the city purchased the facility in 2017, seeking to reopen it.
“Once we knew we would be owners, we embarked upon a formal request for proposals process,” Conway says. “We probably talked to 30 to 40 different firms on various ideas and thoughts about what the facility could do.”
Eventually, he says the city of Montgomery decided to partner with RePower South, North Charleston, South Carolina, which specializes in recycling and recovery. The partnership was initially announced in June 2018.
The city entered into a 25-year contract with RePower South, and Conway says RePower South will mainly be focused on turning municipal solid waste (MSW) into refuse-derived fuel (RDF), which can be sold as a coal alternative. Scott Montgomery, principal at RePower South, says the company plans to sell RDF to cement kilns or paper mills.
“[The city] will take everything from a residential standpoint to the facility,” Conway adds. “They’ll sort through that, extract marketable commodities and take components they can use for RDF.”
Through the partnership, Conway says the city hopes to divert up to 50 percent of waste from being landfilled. He notes that through the contract agreement, the city will be guaranteed at least 20 percent diversion rates.
Conway says RePower South invested about $7 million into the facility, updating equipment and adding new shredders. He says the company is also making modifications to the tipping floor.
Montgomery adds that the facility is expected to begin collecting MSW from the city in mid-December 2018 and will have a second shift running by January 2019.
“We are happy to be partnering with the city and provide recycling services for them,” he says.
Montgomery says the new recycling plant will be able to accept all MSW currently collected by Montgomery’s sanitation crews, and it plans to separate materials that could be recycled. He adds that the facility won’t accept C&D, medical waste or hazardous waste.
While the facility will start as a way to introduce recycling for residential customers, Conway says he hopes it can also expand business to commercial customers in the future. “At the moment, there’s no commercial recycling component planned,” he says. “We’re hopeful that some [community education] can help us get into partnerships with businesses, schools, etc., to add their collection of recyclables.”