UPDATE April 17, 2018: Local officials will formally break ground today on the Berkeley County Recycling and Recovery Facility in South Carolina, as reported by The Post and Courier.
The mixed waste processing facility, being constructed by RePower South, has run into various permitting delays but is still said to be on track for the facility's structure to be complete by fall and fully operational by February 2019. A large portion of the more than $50 million project is being funded by bonds through the South Carolina Jobs-Economic Development Authority.
This news comes as RePower is in negotiations to potentially take over operation of the Infinitus Renewable Energy Park in Montgomery, AL.
- Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), along with Barnhill Contracting Company, has begun constructing a 50-ton-per hour MRF for RePower South in Moncks Corner, SC, the company announced. The facility will serve Berkeley County, SC.
- The facility will feature advanced technology, including seven optical sorters from NRT and nine Max-AI quality control devices. This will allow the facility to "run with minimal manual sorters" during each shift.
- Additionally, the facility will be able to recover plastics and paper that are otherwise not recyclable for conversion into a "ReEngineered Feedstock," a low-carbon fuel that can be sold to industry, cement and utility customers as a substitute for coal.
It's not even been a full year since BHS unveiled the Max-AI system at a MRF in Los Angeles, and the company already boasts of some impressive results. A $3.5 million investment in AI tech at a MRF in Pennsylvania produced a 30% boost in capacity. The success BHS has seen so far with AI in MRFs could be a part of "waves of change" technology is bringing to the waste industry.
Autonomous vehicles on closed sites and potential fully-autonomous collection routes could be further agents of change coming to the waste industry. Artificial intelligence can also help companies with routing decisions.
On one hand, these technological improvements can improve safety and efficiency, and help companies deal with staffing shortages. On the other hand, new technologies like automatic sorting and autonomous vehicles could lead to an employment crisis where employees find themselves out of a job and unable to transition to new positions. A BHS spokesman told Waste Dive in an email that none of the company's customers have installed an AI system in a MRF and then laid someone off.
This facility will allow Charleston County to process material locally once again after its MRF closed more than two years ago. Since then, material has been exported to a neighboring county at a higher transportation cost. The facility opening should also bring some welcome news for RePower after a separate $100 million project in Virginia was canceled last summer for multiple reasons.