Cal-Waste believes in providing its local communities with a clean, safe and healthy environment. To aid in that effort, it operates a state-of-the-art recycling processing center known as a Materials Recovery Facility, or MRF.
Opened on June 1, 2013, the MRF is helping communities meet a state requirement that 75 percent of all commercial waste is recycled. This unique facility includes our call center, administrative offices, repair and maintenance facility, the MRF equipment (for sorting recyclables) and a classroom with a viewing gallery. Watch the YouTube video of our facility by clicking on the photo to the left.
How It Works
The recycling facility, or MRF, is housed in a 100,000 square-foot concrete building on a 6-acre campus in the City of Galt, California. It processes as much as 150 tons of waste per day, totaling nearly 55,000 tons per year.
MRF operations include receiving, screening, sorting, baling, marketing and shipping of recyclable materials from both residential and commercial customers. Below is a look at what these processes look like in practice.
Receiving and Screening
In years past, customers were responsible for separating their own recyclables. Now, the state-of-the-art MRF handles the entire process.
Once inside the MRF, all items are deposited onto the concrete floor for initial screening and sorting. The facility sorts 15 commodity types in all, including paper, glass and electronics.
While much of the MRF’s state-of-the-art approach involves automated, mechanical elements, people are crucial to its success. The facility houses a team of workers who sort and examine incoming materials to make sure no hazardous materials—such as hypodermic needles, scrap metal, bags or plastic wrap—cause damage to the machines or personnel.
Acceptable recyclable items proceed up a conveyor belt, angled at 30 degrees, under a continual mist that reduces the amount of dust that goes airborne. Gravity also plays a role in the process, as heavier, glass objects crash into a cleaning machine that vacuums off up to 96 percent of the dirt and labels.
After workers hand sort plastics into one of four categories, a 3,000 psi hydraulic ram is used to bale the separated cardboard, newspaper, mixed paper, plastics, tin and aluminum items. On average, Cal-Waste workers can process up to 44 items per minute.
Tin cans are separated along the way by a giant magnet that lifts them from one of the 50 conveyer belts and deposits them into a special container for baling. Aluminum cans are also separated to create their own bales.
Marketing and Shipping
Once baled, all of the recyclable items are stored locally and prepared for sale to one of eight national and international brokers. Currently, Cal-Waste exports approximately 65 percent of its recyclables to China.
A Note on Efficiency
The MRF is highly efficient, processing approximately 84 percent of the incoming items. Only 16 percent of materials are deemed non-recyclable, or residual trash, and hauled to the landfill.
The MRF is more than a cutting-edge recycling center. It’s also a place where community members and school children learn about the recycling process and helping the environment.
The facility’s on-site classroom gives Cal-Waste a very special opportunity to team up with area educators and teach students of all ages about the power and process of eco-friendly waste processing and recycling. It’s a program Cal-Waste is proud to provide to the communities it serves, and there’s nothing quite like it in Northern California.
Click here to read Jennifer Bonnett’s informative article from the Lodi News-Sentinel and learn more about the MRF, its staff and what the daily process looks like.