The jury certainly is still out on overall concept of mixed waste processing facilities — often called by their more colorful nickname “dirty MRFs.”
And the question of whether these facilities that harvest recyclables, including plastics, directly from garbage will be ultimately economically viable on a wide scale just got murkier with the closure of one such site in Alabama.
Reports out of Montgomery, Ala., show that the Infinitus Energy LLC has “temporarily” closed its $35 million Advanced Mixed Materials Recovery Facility that opened just last year. Waste, including recyclables that were once extracted at the materials recovery facility, is now heading straight to the landfill.
“One key element of a successful materials recycling program is the ability to sell recovered material at a price that will support the recycling process,” said Infinitus CEO Kyle Mowitz said in a statement. “While our customers have been satisfied with the material we have reclaimed, unfortunately the market price for these materials have dropped dramatically.”
Scott Saunders, general manager of KW Plastics Recycling Division in Troy, Ala., at a recent conference spoke about the need to give these mixed waste processing facilities a chance to help provide plastics to recyclers who need more materials.
But there have been lingering questions about the quality of the recyclables coming out of these sites due to contamination from the waste. Saunders told conference attendees that the quality of the plastics coming from dirty MRFS is the same as those coming from traditional recycling facilities.
Infinitus plans to meet “with all project participants” and city officials in the weeks ahead “to review a detailed plan that would allow us to resume operations,” the company's statement reads.
“The proposed plans will require cooperative efforts on all fronts, to deal with current market pricing issues. However, it is possible to minimize the impact these temporary conditions will have on the City's long term goals of recycling and diversion, by keeping the facility in operations and working together until the markets improve,” the statement reads.
About 100 people work at the site, according to the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper.