I recently toured a recycling facility in Southfield, Mich., for a video on its process. (Maybe I’ll share that later, but it’s sort of embarrassingly unprofessional.) While I was there, I also found out about the awesome $4 million renovations the center will undergo, starting in October. Below is the story I wrote for The Oakland Press.
A Southfield facility that prepares literally tons of items to be recycled in order to make better use of them is getting its own renovations to be more efficient.
On Oct. 1, the Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County will begin to undergo $4 million worth of upgrades, expected to be completed by the end of the year.
General Manager Michael Csapo said the retrofit project will change the facility from a dual to single stream system. As a dual stream facility, it requires people recycling to separate paper from plastics and haulers to dump the material into separate parts of their trucks.
“The advantage of a single stream facility is that you can gain collections efficiencies at the curb,” Csapo said. “Instead of having to separate the material at the curb … everything can go into a single container and then into a single compartment of the truck, so you gain great efficiencies in the collection of material.”
A single stream system requires more attention to sorting, he said, so modern technology will be installed to help accomplish that. The technology includes optical sorters for sorting plastics, air classifiers to sort heavy and light items, eddy currents to attract aluminum, magnets to attract things that contain iron, and a series of disc screens that will allow material of different sizes to continue on through the process as other sizes fall through onto separate conveyors.
“All that is quality controlled by manual sorters as well,” Csapo said. He added that employment at the facility will triple from 12.
While the majority of renovations will be inside the facility, new loading docks will be added to make loading the baled materials more efficient, Csapo said.
The Recycling Authority is publicly owned and gets materials from member communities Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Southfield, South Lyon, Walled Lake and Wixom, as well as businesses.
Its renovations are backed by ReCommunity, a privately held company that operates the facility.
“The company that runs this plant under contract with us feels that it’s in their interest because they can attract more material and sort that material more cost effectively if it’s a single stream plant,” Csapo said.
ReCommunity owns and operates dozens of recycling plants throughout the U.S., mostly east of the Mississippi River, he added.
Besides the Recycling Authority, ReCommunity is involved with two other facilities in Michigan: One in Ann Arbor, which it operates, and another in Saginaw, which it owns and operates. Csapo said the Southfield location will be the sixth single stream facility in the state.
“Some of the facilities that are currently processing material in single stream fashion are at or above capacity, so some of that material will make its way here,” he said. “And then also, as more and more collection programs move to single stream, it makes it more convenient for the homeowner to recycle. Convenience equals participation, which means we generate more material.”
Also, get the story here.