Recology has opened a modernized and expanded MRF in Santa Rosa, California, meant to raise recovery rates and process more material.
The $35 million, 85,000-square-foot Sonoma Marin MRF will process mixed recyclables from 13 communities in Sonoma and Marin counties. It has the projected capacity to process about 400 tons per day, up from 150 tons per day at the previous facility, Recology said.
The new MRF, which opened Monday, also has an expected recovery rate of 85% for curbside material, which Recology said is an improvement over the previous 75% rate.
Recology worked with equipment manufacturer Machinex to help design and install the new system, which includes seven optical sorters, an eddy-current separator, 109 conveyor belts and other technology. Such upgrades make it “one of the highest capacity recovery systems on the West Coast,” said Chris Hawn, CEO of Machinex’s U.S. division, in a statement.
Recycling workers still hand sort materials on the “last chance” line, mainly items such as plastic bottles that make it past optical sorting machines, said Logan Harvey, senior general manager of Recology Sonoma Marin, in a statement. “The system is designed to ensure that the recyclable material we collect has multiple opportunities to get separated and recycled,” he said.
The upgraded facility is a “game changer” for diverting recyclable material from the landfill, said Leslie Lukacs, executive director of Zero Waste Sonoma, a regional government agency that operates waste reduction programs.
Upgrading and improving MRF operations is part of Recology’s overall sustainability and operational efficiency efforts, according to its recent sustainability report. Recology operates 12 MRFs and has invested about $60 million over the last five years to install robotic sorters, optical sorters and other technology to improve their operations, according to the report. Among all its facilities, Recology recovered 508,904 tons of recyclable material in 2022, including 15,817 tons of plastic, it said.
“We aim to be a climate partner to the communities we serve, and this is a significant step towards that,” said Recology CEO Sal Coniglio in a statement.