- Montgomery, AL and the city's Solid Waste Disposal Authority have signed an agreement to acquire a closed material recovery facility (MRF) and adjacent lot. The city will pay former operator Infinitus Renewable Energy Park (IREP) $625,000.
- As part of the agreement, IREP will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The purchase will close within five business days after the Bankruptcy Court approves the agreement.
- Montgomery has talked with at least five potential operators and is continuing to meet more. Any operator would have to agree to take over the MRF and handle recycling without additional money from the city or Solid Waste Disposal Authority.
This $35 million MRF received a great deal of attention when it opened in April 2014 for its ability to process mixed waste. A 60% recycling rate was predicted and that number was expected to pass 90% when factoring in waste-to-energy and composting. The city was required to deliver 100,000 tons of municipal solid waste on an annual basis and pay a tipping fee for it. IREP was responsible for paying to dump any residual waste at the city's landfill.
Yet low commodity prices tanked the venture quickly and it was closed by October 2015. This closure affected municipalities throughout the region and became a favorite cautionary tale for skeptics of the technology. Since then the city has been looking for a way to reactivate the MRF, either for single-stream recycling or mixed-waste processing.
It's still not clear how exactly the facility will be used, but mixed-waste processing shouldn't be ruled out if the conditions are right. While a number of similar projects have also struggled to get off the ground lately, others are still moving ahead. Republic Services has had success so far with processing commercial mixed waste—separated into wet and dry streams—at its facility in Anaheim, CA, and one Florida county is considering the construction of its own facility.