"Never mind, we'll do it." It's not the most inspiring
environmental slogan, but it might be the wave of the
Exhorting households to sort their recyclables often fails
to convince families to actually do that. Curbside pickup of
beverage containers and newspapers, particularly if the
materials can't be intermingled, strains the budgets of many
local governments. Beverages in aluminum and plastic containers
are increasingly slurped and tossed away from home.
That leaves the technology option, which goes something like
this Expect such materials to end up in the trash but retrieve
them at the transfer station or the landfill intake.
Most MRFs (material recovery facilities) handle only
materials collected as recyclables from households and public
places. But a few MRFs tackle the actual raw trash. After 18
months of operation, a joint-venture MRF of this sort-involving
Novelis Inc. and the whimsically spelled Prfection Engineering
LLC-is ready for germination elsewhere, according to Steve
Viny, Prfection's principal.
Atlanta-based Novelis is a major aluminum sheet producer
that last year recovered about 40 billion aluminum cans,
weighing more than 500,000 tonnes, worldwide. But Novelis has
been aiming for a better recycling ratio and helped with the
Dayton, Ohio, MRF project, called MiniMRF LLC.
"We designed the equipment for 50 (short) tons per hour.
We've been able to achieve that," Viny said. The aluminum cans
that get recovered go, naturally, to Novelis, while other
metallics are sold to Ferrous Processing & Trading Co., a
scrapyard company with headquarters in Detroit. An output
stream of organics, despite being flawed for some purposes by
powdered glass, is useful to landfills themselves for topping
off each day's intake of trash. The tag for that use is
"alternative daily cover."
Prfection assembled its equipment from an assortment of
vendors. "Some of it we imported from Europe. Some is from the
U.S. Even the equipment we import, we modify once we get it
here," Viny said. He wouldn't offer cost figures. "Right now,
I'd rather not comment on the economics," Viny said.
For guessing at size order, a consultant's report to an
Oregon county said last year that trash-based "dirty" MRFs, in
a different context, have capital costs around $40,000 for each
short ton of daily capacity and operating costs around $40 per
Viny, now 52 years old, has been involved in Ohio waste
handling since his early 20s. He is the second generation in
his family in a business that started with landfills, then a
transfer station, and then a hauling company.
One of the associated companies has run a waste diversion
facility in Seville, Ohio, since 1993. It handles half the
quantity of the Dayton plant but produces a longer list of
recyclable output streams. "We recover organics as compost. We
recover wood that we turn into natural mulch. We recover lumber
which is turned into color-enhanced mulch. We recover ferrous
metal, nonferrous metal, plastics, cardboard, newspaper, mixed
paper, glass. We recover an engineered fuel fraction," Viny
said, describing the older MRF.
The fuel comes from light paper and from plastic film. "We
can make it into a fluff. We can put it into pellets. We can
bale it (into larger cubes) for densification and handling
purposes," he said, although production of the fuel product has
been dropped temporarily by the Seville facility because last
year's economic slump forced the cement kiln that was using it
to suspend operations. "We are awaiting their reopening," he
Unlike the recently established MiniMRF plant in Dayton, the
older Seville operation includes some hand sorting, with
employees picking out fiber, wood and plastics from conveyor
lines. The basic diversion rate from landfill at Seville is 18
to 20 percent, Viny said. When the engineered fuel has an
active market, that sends another 20 to 25 percent to a useful
destination. Another 8 to 10 percent is material that can be
used as yard waste composting.
The MiniMRF project in Dayton, backed by Novelis, is in a
county that already provides pickups of recyclables. "They do
have curbside recycling (from homes) in Montgomery County, so
this is a sort of MRF of last resort," Viny said. Maybe the
beverage was consumed in a public place where the only discard
option was a garbage can. Or maybe the consumer was lazy.
"Novelis contacted me and said they were interested in
developing an MRF that would extract aluminum from the waste
stream. Their studies indicated that there was still quite a
bit of aluminum left, even after curbside recycling. And they
want those UBCs (used beverage cans)," Viny said. "Novelis
forced me to put my thinking cap on and we came up with what we
view as sort of the next-generation mixed processing
One reason Viny came to Novelis' attention is that the
1993-vintage facility in Seville isn't far from Novelis'
traditional U.S. headquarters. Earlier this year, Novelis
decided to shift its national headquarters to Atlanta.
Now MiniMRF LLC wants to market the technology. "If you want
to buy it, we'll sell it. If you want us to be the developer,
we'll own it and operate it. We can go either way," Viny said.
He also is willing to configure an upgraded miniMRF to provide
raw material for waste-to-energy generating stations, with
extra modules to remove glass and high-moisture organics.