Tulsa recycling facility upgrades to automated process
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 7:07 AM
Complete coverage: See a full list of recyclable items and read more about Tulsa’s new system.
As the mayor proclaimed Thursday as the first Tulsa Recycles Day, the new, high-tech material recovery facility processing all of the city's household recyclables was unveiled.
Tulsa Recycle and Transfer, the contractor, recently went through a $10 million upgrade at its 1150 N. Peoria Ave., three-acre facility to replace an entirely manual process with one that uses dozens of automatic sorting points.
Magnets, optical scanners and air classifiers along the conveyer belts increase the amount of recycled materials and productivity.
"This technology is so advanced, I think we'll see more material than ever being recycled in Tulsa and diverted away from our landfills," said Tom Hill, CEO of American Waste Control, which owns Tulsa Recycle and Transfer.
Tulsans are already setting local records with their recycling efforts, city Solid Waste Services Manager Eric Lee said.
Out of the city's 116,500 households, about 110,000 of them have accepted the recycling carts as part of the system that fully launched Oct. 1.
Tulsans will have recycled a total of about 2,400 tons through the end of this week - the seventh week of the program, he said.
That's as much as was previously collected in a full year's 52 weeks, Lee said, and has boosted the diversion rate from less than 2 percent to about 17.5 percent.
"We don't have a goal yet as to what we could achieve in the future," he said, "but there's certainly room for growth."
The facility is the first of its kind in Oklahoma. It was previously what is known as a "dirty MRF," meaning that trash loads were delivered and the recyclables were manually picked out by workers.
Now it has a "clean MRF" portion that handles the city's single-stream recycling program.
The city's contracted trash and recycling hauler, NeWSolutions, collects the recyclables in separate trucks and delivers them to the facility.
The loads are then fed into the massive machine for sorting and are bailed at the other end. Workers are dispersed along the conveyer belts for quality control.
The operation ramped up in October but this week went to 24 hours a day, six days a week with it closed Sundays, Hill said. The machine is shut down every six hours for cleaning and maintenance.
"We are seeing new plastic being made out of old plastic, cardboard and paper being reused," he said. "Even clothes can be made out of recycled materials."
Tulsa Recycle and Transfer gets paid 25 percent of the revenue from the sale of what's collected, with the city getting 30 percent.
The city's cut from October was roughly $30,000, Lee said. Any money generated goes to keep customer rates stable.
A facility upgrade would have happened regardless of whether the company, established in 1987, had secured the city contract, but it was expanded to handle more materials, Hill said.
"This is the future of the industry," he said, noting the facility also processes recyclable material collected from businesses serviced by locally owned American Waste Control, its "Mr. Murph" drop off sites, as well as other customers.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett praised the city's trash board - officially known as the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy - at the unveiling for coming up with a vision for a greener Tulsa.
"Four long years ago the city started studying how we collect and dispose of our trash," he said. "It led to a lot of changes as we all know. It also led to a lot of discouragement. But so much has been accomplished as a result.
"We should all be very proud of being a more responsible city."
Tulsa's recycling tonnage since Oct. 1
Week 1: 347.52 tons of recyclables out of 1,543.31 trash tons for an 18.4 percent diversion rate
Week 2: 343.92 tons of recyclables out of 1,576.38 trash tons for a 17.9 percent diversion rate
Week 3: 335.17 tons of recyclables out of 1,656.65 trash tons for a 16.8 percent diversion rate
Week 4: 324.81 tons of recyclables out of 1,647.89 trash tons for a 16.5 percent diversion rate
Week 5: 329.70 tons of recyclables out of 1,593.84 trash tons for a 17.1 percent diversion rate
Week 6: 361.41 tons of recyclables out of 1,659.41 trash tons for a 17.9 percent diversion rate
Weekly Average: 340.42 tons of recyclables out of 1,612,91 trash tons for a 17.4 percent diversion rate
Holiday trash and recycling schedule
Original Print Headline: Recycling site upgrades
- No trash, recycling or green waste will be collected in the city Thursday in observance of Thanksgiving.
- Thursday and Friday customers will have their collection days moved forward by one day to accommodate the disruption in service. So, those with Thursday collection will receive service Friday, while those with Friday collection will receive service Saturday.
- Customers with twice-a-week service also will move forward one day as a result of the holiday. Please note that only refuse is collected on the customer's secondary collection day.
- So, Monday-Thursday customers' items will be collected Monday-Friday, while Tuesday-Friday customers will have collection Tuesday-Saturday.
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
Tulsa Recycle and Transfer employee Jessica Moreno ensures quality control at the new automated material recovery facility that processes the city's household recyclables. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
The city's recyclable material is unloaded for automated sorting at the Material Recovery Facility at American Waste Control on Thursday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World