What Does A MRF Do

In the UK, even though we’re keen recyclers and statistics show that, year on year, we’re getting better at it, we still produce over 100 million tonnes of waste a year. From plastic bags, milk bottles, cardboard to food waste, and office waste; if there’s a bin, the waste finds a way in.

With home based recycling, we are savvier than ever when it comes to separating our various waste streams into the various different types of waste receptacle provided. Most homes as well as a brown wheelie bin for garden waste, also have a small receptacle for food waste, which can go towards composting and various blue bags and other wheelie bins, for paper and glass for example.

But what happens to trade and commercial waste after it is put in a wheelie bin?

After waste is collected from businesses throughout the UK it is sorted to be recycled and reused. The recycling part, most of us are aware of what happens – how different materials can be reused into various products (fleeces from plastic bottles, for example). However, what can often be overlooked is the process of sorting itself – the process that exists between collection and transportation of the sorted materials.

This is the point where the Materials Recovery Facility (or MRF) comes into play.

A MRF is where waste goes after is has been collected from various receptacles such as wheelie bins, RELs and bin bags. Its function is the sorting, processing and collection of the sorted materials, prior to delivery.

How does a Materials Recycling Facility work?

To begin with, waste is placed in a hopper which itself feeds into a giant rotating drum to screen the waste in preparation for the sorting process. This stage consists of an angled and perforated cylindrical drum, which transports the waste upwards to the conveyer belt for manual sorting and picking. The perforations allow for the smaller particles to drop through (called fines) and are collected in a separate receptacle. These ‘fines’ then pass through powerful magnets on their way to ensure all magnetic metals such as steel are separated and collected away from other waste types. Aluminium is separated by the use of eddy current due it being non-magnetic and is also placed in its own container.

Any waste larger than the holes in the drum, then passes onto a conveyer belt system which goes through a staffed picking line. Here, workers sort out the waste and any misdirected recyclables into different holding bays by hand.

From here, all the sorted recyclables are baled, compacted, or kept loose, to be delivered on to the next stage of their sustainable journey.

29/07/2014 12:27:33

by Jonny in Recycling News

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