Recovered Materials Processing Facility

The SWA Recovered Materials Processing Facility (RMPF) receives, sorts, processes, and prepares for market materials collected through the SWA's recycling program. The RMPF is owned by the SWA and operated by a private contractor. It opened in 2009 and replaced the SWA’s previous residential materials recycling facility and commercial materials recycling facility. The nearly 138,000-square-foot, $40 million facility has a processing capacity of 750 tons per day.

Processed Materials

The RMPF processes the following materials:

Containers
  • Plastics #1 - #7
  • Steel cans
  • Aluminum cans
  • Drink boxes
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Glass bottles and jars
Fiber
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines/Catalogs
  • Unwanted mail
  • School/Office papers
  • Phone books
  • Paper bags
  • All cardboard boxes (includes beverage cartons, tissue boxes, and dry food boxes
The Process
The RMPF has three tipping floors, one for residential fiber on the east end of the facility, one for commercial fiber on the east end of the facility, and one for containers on the west end of the facility.

Containers
Containers are delivered to the facility by route collection trucks or SWA tractor trailers. The containers are then pushed onto a conveyor belt where bulky non-recyclable material is removed by hand.

The steel is then pulled out using a magnetic conveyor belt, loaded onto a truck, and sent to a private facility to be processed. The remaining material is then conveyed to a sorting room where workers remove non-recyclable residue (trash). The material continues on to a glass breaker where the glass is crushed. The crushed glass, is given to a recycler or sent to the landfill to be used as cover.

Next, an eddy current separator repels the aluminum from the line. The aluminum is baled and shipped to market. The remaining material, mostly plastic, is sent to a series of optical sorters, where the material is scanned and its resin code (the type of plastic) identified. Plastics #1 (polyethylene terephthalate or PETE) and #2 (High-density polyethylene or HDPE) are pushed off the conveyor belt using blasts of air. Plastics #3 - #7 are sorted by hand. The separated material is checked for quality and then baled for shipment.

All recovered container materials other than glass, which is loaded onto trucks loose, are baled prior to being transported to market. The residue (solid waste that was mixed in with the recyclables) represents over 14 percent of materials the RMPF receives. The majority of residue is sent to the SWA's Renewable Energy Facilities.

Fiber
Fiber is delivered by route collection trucks or SWA tractor trailers and deposited on the fiber tipping floor on either the commercial side or the residential side. The material is then loaded onto conveyors which transport the material to a sorting room where workers remove any residue (trash) by hand. Next, the material is sent to a Star Screen System, a series of spinning wheels, that separates the paper and cardboard. The paper falls through to a conveyor and is hand-sorted one more time before it is baled or loaded into a truck loose. The cardboard “floats” on top of the wheels of the Star Screen System and is dropped into a bunker. It, too, is baled prior to shipping to market.

Recovered Materials
Materials recovered at the RMPF are sold to manufacturers who process them to produce new products. The revenue from the sale of these materials is used to help offset the cost of the SWA's recycling programs. Although the value of recovered materials fluctuates with the market, the revenue from the sale of materials processed at the RMPF is generally sufficient to cover the owning and operating cost of the facility. Fifty percent of the net revenue is paid to the cities who deliver recyclables to the SWA.