Waste Not

MRWMD Director of Operations Tim Brownwell describes the new MRF this way: “Mixed-waste processing is like a goalie.”

Inside a 100,000-square-foot warehouse just west of the Marina landfill, a new facility is taking shape that looks like a giant Rube Goldberg machine. It’s comprised of some of the most cutting-edge machinery in the waste management industry, and for the time being, it doesn’t even smell.

The Monterey Regional Waste Management District’s $24 million upgrade and expansion of its materials recovery facility – in industry lingo, pronounced “MuRF” – is set to be completed in December, and after fine-tuning the equipment, will open early next year.

When it does, it will be the most advanced MRF in the Central Coast, and will not only divert the obvious items from going in the landfill – cans, bottles, etc. – but also things like food waste from restaurants.

For residents in Peninsula cities other than Monterey, Greenwaste Recovery presently trucks curbside waste up to its similarly high-tech MRF in San Jose. With MRWMD’s new MRF, those truck trips will be no more.

MRWMD General Manager Tim Flanagan credits the vision of his agency’s board when building the original MRF back in the ’90s – it only processed construction and demolition debris – by sizing its warehouse for eventual expansion. “This will be our infrastructure for the next 20 years,” he adds.

Almost everything in the new MRF is mechanized: Magnet strips will pull metals off the conveyor belt, optical sensors will distinguish between different types of plastic – which will then be sorted off the belt by air-jets – and debris will roll across screens that separate waste by size and weight.

(1) comment

Andrew Allison

Hopefully the facility will be able to accommodate the enormous increase in recyclables brought about by the State's stealing the money which used to fund local recycling centers -- I suspect that only the homeless and/or desperate are willing to suffer the pain of using the single local recycling center. Once was quite enough for me.

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