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Automated recycling facility

Winnipeg's single stream automated recycling facility, also called a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF - pronounced murf), processes all the paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastics collected from the curbside collection program (homes and apartments) and the recycling depots.

What is single stream recycling?

It's when acceptable recyclable materials can be placed in the same container and collected together:

  • customers don't have to sort their recyclable materials
  • collectors don't have to sort them into the collection truck
How does the automated sorting system work?
  • automated sorting systemThe collection truck empties all the materials collected onto the tipping floor, where a front-end loader pushes everything onto a conveyor belt to transport the materials throughout the facility.
  • The materials first reach a manual sorting station, where workers remove as much non-recyclable material as possible, such as plastic bags, scrap metal, wood, clothing and garbage.
  • The remaining materials are then transported to a cardboard sorter called an OCC (old corrugated cardboard) screen. The screen is a series of shafts fitted with rotating disks.
  • As the cardboard is sorted out, the other materials, such as paper and containers, fall through openings between the screens.
  • The remaining material passes through a series of optical sorters, which identify a variety of plastic and paper materials by using infrared light reflection technology. The MRF has seven optical sorters to separate different types of recyclables and remove garbage from the sorting line.
  • In addition to the optical sorters, the MRF uses an advanced glass separation system, magnets to sort steel cans, an eddy current system to sort aluminum cans and a state-or-the-art sorting robot that identifies and sorts a variety of materials.
  • The MRF also has ten manual sorting stations throughout the facility, where workers assure the machines are sorting recyclables effectively, so they can be sold and recycled into new products.
  • Once the individual materials are sorted, they are baled and placed in a shipping area before being transported to manufacturing plants.
MRF material is processedHow much material is processed at the MRF?

The MRF is designed to process about 26 tonnes of mixed recycling materials per hour. The MRF processes approximately 53,000 tonnes each year, with the majority from City of Winnipeg recycling programs.

What kind of equipment is in the MRF?

The material recovery facility features equipment from Canadian-based waste and recycling equipment manufacturer, Machinex Industries Inc.

Who owns and runs the MRF?

GFL Environmental Inc. owns and operates Winnipeg's material recovery facility.

Did you know?
  • Approximately 90% (by weight) of the operation is automated
  • some manual sorting is required to separate items that are not sorted by machines (e.g., some containers) and those materials that aren't accepted in the program
  • most paper is in and out of the facility in an average of 72 hours
  • 5 semi- trailers of paper/cardboard are processed per day
  • the facility operates 5 days per week
  • on average, 200 thousand kilograms of materials are processed per day
  • approximately 40,000 residences are serviced by approximately 40 trucks per day
  • approximately 150 bales of material are processed each day, each bale weighing about 850 kilograms
Last updated: March 20, 2020

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