When public funds are spent on new recycling equipment, it’s always reassuring for the profitability and expected results to be met as quickly as possible after the investment. This is the case for the County of Northumberland in Ontario, where the August 2016 production report showed positive numbers following their 2015 investment for an optical sorting unit on their container line.
The contract was entrusted to Machinex, who installed a MACH Hyspec® optical sorter for PET in April 2015 at the Northumberland County single-stream facility in Grafton. This particular facility processes 15,000 tons of recycling material per year. The purpose of this project was to increase the cost effectiveness, diversion, MRF optimization, and rationalization. Note that the PET was sorted manually before the optical sorter installation.
Based on these objectives, the primary focus was to update the processing equipment to allow for optical sorting of PET plastics, improve safety conditions for employees, and reduce operating costs. The County requested 95% sorting efficiency on PET and a minimum processing rate of 4 tons per hour for containers. The MACH Hyspec® exceeded the targets by reaching an average rate of 97% efficiency.
This project has been very successful for Northumberland County. The Material Recovery Facility has increased the diversion of PET recyclables by 66% and is showing an annual savings of $360,000 per year.
In addition to diverting more PET, Northumberland has seen an increase in diversion of HDPE to 8%, mixed plastics to 30%, aluminum cans to 9%, and polycoat containers to 95%. The new equipment allows for less PET items on the sorting belts which increases the ability of sorters to pick other items. This process leads to the collection of additional aluminum by eliminating PET passing through the eddy current separator and improving the ejection rate of aluminum cans. Overall, this project has increased the diversion of all containers by 39%.
Results were achieved by increasing the tons that are marketed, decreasing labor costs, decreasing residual disposal fees, and eliminating WSIB injury claims. The overall payback period for the capital investment of this project is 2.5 years.
Karl Allen, Plant Manager at Northumberland County MRF, comments: “After two full years of operating the Machinex MACH Hyspec® Optical Sorting equipment, we are amazed at its continued performance output and low operational downtime”.
This article is based on the information contained in the County of Northumberland monitoring report, August 2016.