Shoreway Environmental Center reopens ahead of projections

MRF in San Mateo County, California, sustained significant damage from a fire in September 2016.

February 7, 2017

RethinkWaste, a joint powers authority of 12 public agencies in San Mateo County, California, has reopened its Shoreway Environmental Center material recovery facility (MRF) in San Carlos, California. The facility was forced to close in the fall of 2016 following a fire in early September that caused significant damage to the facility’s processing equipment and building. The reopening came three months ahead of the initial projections, according to RethinkWaste.

The facility has resumed full operations and is processing more than 350 tons of mixed recyclables per day, RethinkWaste says.

While the cause of the fire is not certain, investigators believe it was caused by a rechargeable battery that was wrongly included in a recycling cart, the authority says.

RethinkWaste says the MRF reopened so quickly because of the collaborative efforts by RethinkWaste’s technical staff; South Bay Recycling, which operates the MRF; Recology, which provides collection services for residents and businesses in RethinkWaste’s service area; and Rethink’s associated specialized processing equipment, construction management and insurance partners.

The repairs are estimated to have cost more than $6.5 million. RethinkWaste adds that another $170,000 will be spent to repair the roof and other parts of the building. That work is expected to be completed by late April 2017.

Additionally, RethinkWaste says it incurred about $1.3 million in business interruption expenses when the plant was closed.

“We are happy to be back at work providing the vital recycling services that the community relies on,” says Hilary Gans, RethinkWaste facility operations contract manager.

Joe La Mariana, RethinkWaste executive director, says, “We’re absolutely thrilled that none of our hardworking colleagues were injured during the fire and that evacuation procedures were all by the book. The expedited facility restoration was an extraordinary team effort led by RethinkWaste staff, and our strong partners at South Bay Recycling, Recology, Tanner Pacific, BHS Equipment, manufacturers and the Hanover Insurance claims team.

“I also want to acknowledge the three processors in San Jose and Oakland that handled our materials on an emergency basis during the plant closure," he continues. "It’s really a great feeling knowing that we work with such a well-regarded, professional team that was so committed to getting us back on track.”

Along with reopening the MRF, RethinkWaste says it has restarted its School Groups and Public Tour Program at the MRF.

“We’re pleased that our recycling facility is back online, and excited to host teachers, students and the public at the Shoreway Environmental Center,” says Faustina Mututa, RethinkWaste environmental education coordinator.

RethinkWaste is a joint powers authority of 12 public agencies in the California cities of Atherton, Belmont, Burlingame, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo and in San Mateo County and the West Bay Sanitary District in San Mateo County. The authority is involved in delivering waste reduction and recycling programs.