One of the most advanced mixed-waste processing facilities on the East Coast is being built by South Carolina–based RePower South (RPS). The Berkeley County Recycling and Recovery Facility will have a turnkey recovery system provided by Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), headquartered in Eugene, OR, under an engineering procurement and construction agreement with Barnhill Contracting. Production at the facility is expected to begin in early 2019 in Moncks Corner, SC, and will process 50 tons-per-hour of mixed waste sourced from Berkeley County to recover recycled commodities and fuel feedstock. Advanced technology, including NRT optical sorters and Max-AI Autonomous Quality Controls (AQCs) will enable the system to run with minimal manual sorters.
RPS partners with communities to maximize recycling recovery and landfill diversion at the lowest overall cost, said RPS. China’s National Sword policy has left many communities contemplating how to best manage recycling, with some areas in the United States currently landfilling paper, plastic and valuable commodities that had previously been recycled. The RPS facility is designed to maximize value from the county’s mixed-waste stream by recovering all recyclables rather than only those placed in a recycling bin. Beyond recycling, the facility is able to recover non-recyclable papers and plastics for production of ReEngineered Feedstock, a high-quality, low-carbon renewable fuel sold to industry, cement and utility customers to replace coal in production processes.
“This system allows us to cost effectively increase a community’s recycling as well as produce a low-carbon, clean fuel from waste that is typically landfilled,” said RPS President Bob Shepard. “BHS systems are a critical component of our ability to offer a better, more cost-effective solution to manage a community’s waste disposal. We are very excited to bring this solution to the citizens of Berkeley County, and are grateful to the leadership of Berkeley County for selecting RPS and system partners BHS and Loesche Energy Systems.”
The system requires minimal manual sorters per shift yet will create high-quality products thanks to recent technological advances from BHS companies. The BHS FiberPure system, consisting of BHS screens, NRT optical sorters and Max-AI AQCs, remove contaminants to produce a clean end product without the need for manual sorters, said BHS. The non-recyclable fibers and plastics destined for fuel undergo further purification by NRT SpydIR optical sorters equipped with MetalDirector options to remove unwanted contaminants. Max-AI AQCs are also utilized in each sorting position on the container line. In total, the system contains seven NRT optical sorters and nine Max-AI AQCs, dramatically minimizing the need for sort labor.
“With NRT optical and Max-AI technology, we have an almost unlimited degree of flexibility to create a variety of high-quality products to serve multiple markets,” Shepard said. “The technology will maximize the recovery and quality of those products, and with Max-AI technology there’s no real need to expose people to this work during the QC process.”
According to Peter Raschio, Marketing Manager for BHS, the system will receive all plastic types, with zero pre-sorting by residents. “The system has abundant optical sorting technology able to detect the plastic by material composition, which is how we detect and capture PET from HDPE or other plastics, for example,” Raschio explained to PlasticsToday. “The system is autonomously capturing HDPE-N, HDPE-C and PET. In the case of HDPE, the optical sorter ejects all HDPE and a Max-AI AQC pulls the HDPE-C and also removes any contamination from the HDPE-N. The AQC also captures any other containers to return to the container line’s onset.”
Raschio noted that there are a couple of interesting elements in this facility as it relates to the Wall Street Journal article that I recently wrote about. First, he said, “it’s accepting all residential municipal solid waste (MSW). Plastic recycling rates nationally hover around 9%. That means more than 90% are not recovered for value. This system has access to all residential plastics and gets the opportunity to keep them out of our oceans, landfills and countryside.”
Second, the system creates a fuel that is used in the cement manufacturing process, which means the system can find the highest and best value for plastics. “When commodity markets need the material, they can be sent there,” said Raschio. “When it makes more sense to replace coal as a fuel source, it can be used in this process.”
BHS CEO Steve Miller said, “RePower South is showing that it is possible today to help communities increase recycling with the existing waste stream while also providing the flexibility to adjust to any market condition or opportunity. The system is built to run with low operating costs over multiple shifts and has the ability to adjust its outputs to meet market conditions. The waste stream in Berkeley County is a resource that can be fully managed, and BHS is excited to help make it happen.”
The video below shows plastics being sorted using the BHS system.