San Francisco-based Recology has added four Max-AI AQC (autonomous quality control) units and one VIS (Visual Identification System) to its 200,000-square-foot Recycle Central material recovery facility (MRF) on San Francisco’s Pier 96. Max-AI technology is supplied by Eugene, Oregon-based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS). The AQC units employ a camera-based vision system and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify recyclables and a robot to sort them. The investment in the technology aligns with Recology’s mission to produce cleaner bales of recyclables, sustaining San Francisco’s recycling program, according to a news release issued by BHS.
One of the MRF’s Max-AI AQC unit is being used to control the quality of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) the company recovers, removing contamination and capturing non-CRV (California Redemption Value) PET. The other three AQC units monitor the plant’s container line to boost recovery, capturing remaining PET, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and mixed plastics.
BHS’ VIS technology monitors the outbound residue, providing MRF operators with real-time and trending material composition, allowing them to gauge performance and adjust the system to optimize recovery.
“Automation is the next step toward technological advancement in recycling,” says Maurice Quillen, general manager of Recology San Francisco, the operating company that runs Recycle Central.
“The magic of Recycle Central continues to be people utilizing the latest technology to recycle more materials while producing high-quality bales of sorted recyclables. The robotic sorting machines at Recycle Central will be used to perform some of the dirtier jobs, and employee-owners will be assigned more technical positions, developing new skills needed to manage and maintain high-tech equipment,” he explains.
“BHS has a longstanding relationship with Recology as a supplier of MRF systems and equipment,” BHS Sales Manager Richard Sweet says. “We’re thankful that they chose BHS and Max for this important technology upgrade, which is one that the company’s employees and community stakeholders can be proud of. Max is a new technology that allows for new sorting achievements; by adding four Max units to the Recycle Central MRF, Recology continues to show that it’s a company that truly cares about maximizing quality and recovery.”
Designed and constructed by Recology in partnership with the city of San Francisco, Recycle Central opened in 2002 and today sorts approximately 750 tons of material every day over two shifts. It is the largest shipper of recycled paper on the West Coast, shipping more than 30 containers of recycled commodities six days a week to paper mills, glass plants and other manufacturers.