A Maryland waste authority is looking to build up to two material recovery facilities (MRFs) that one industry expert characterized as a significant project, but one that faces challenges.
The Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority made a request for proposals (RFP) for two MRFs, each of which would process at least 250,000 tons a year, according to the authority, which would make it one of the bigger MRFs in the United States.
The RFP seeks companies to design, construct and operate the high-diversion facility or facilities long-term. The first would be constructed at an existing site, with the second, optional facility located at a site to be determined.
The high-diversion MRFs will incorporate state-of-the-art technology to sort solid waste from households and potentially businesses to recover recyclables. The MRFs also will be capable of recovering organic material for potential anaerobic digestion, composting or other recycling or reuse.
The project is significant but faces challenges because of current market conditions as well as the outlook for both processing costs and the resale of recyclables, says Bob Wallace, principal and vice president of client solutions, for Phoenix-based WIH Resource Group Inc., in an e-mail.
Municipalities, however, aren’t as concerned as the private sector about those factors, he says. “Munis typically moreover consider the need for these types of facilities, the greater good of recycling, and the services and cost for providing service to their constituents and ratepayers over the return on investment.”
But Wallace adds that it will be an expensive facility. It is set up to process mixed wastes, so there will be a large volume that will be disposed of, which increases the costs. He says the waste at the facility is not guaranteed, yet a recovery guarantee of 40 percent is required. The proposal also must include "cradle to grave" services, as it is a green field project.
Wallace says the firm that eventually wins the bid likely will be a smaller to medium-sized firm, as it is basically a operational contract.
He estimated the cost of the facility at $30 million to $40 million. Wallace estimated that the MRF that could process 200,000 tons per year of volume.
In November Phoenix-based Republic Services Inc. opened a large, $35 million residential recycling center outside Las Vegas that doubled the recycling capacity in the region. The 110,000-sq.-ft. Southern Nevada Recycling Center has the capacity to process 265,000 tons annually.