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A New Recycling Plant is Here!

A new, advanced recycling facility (known as a Materials Recovery Facility or “MRF”) opened in Salt Lake City in July 2020. Salt Lake City sends its recyclable materials to the new MRF, owned and operated by Waste Management.


Last year, you may recall we announced that Waste Management, the company that processes Salt Lake City’s recyclables, was constructing a new Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) right here in Salt Lake City.

Today we’re excited to let you know that the facility is fully up and running!

Salt Lake City is now home to one of the most advanced recycling sorting centers in the country.

It is a single-stream operation that accepts and sorts clean metal cans, plastic bottles and containers, cardboard, paper and newspaper. (Here’s what to recycle in your SLC containers).

The state-of-the-art facility cost the company $17 million to construct at an existing site of theirs located in western Salt Lake City at 3405 West 900 South.

The facility is outfitted with the latest recycling technology and equipment. This matters because consumer material continues to change at a rapid pace — what you were putting in your recycling bin 15 or 20 years ago is probably a bit different than what you’re using it for today. The sheer quantity of recyclable material being processed has also gone up dramatically– and will only continue to grow. So we need facilities that can keep up!

Waste Management’s new Materials Recovery Facility in Salt Lake City. Video courtesy of Redo Recycling.

Going from the Flintstones to the Jetsons

We’re also working hard to reduce so-called “contamination” (items that are placed in the recycling bin that shouldn’t be), and the new technology helps sort out more of the bad from the good– leading to higher recycling rates all around.

This means more material ultimately gets recycled and turned into new goods at their final destination.

What’s different at this MRF, you might ask?

A good analogy is that it’s like going from the Flintstones with the old recycling technology to the Jetsons with the new technology . . . overnight.

The facility is comprised of a network of machinery equipped with advanced automation capabilities and sorting optics. Rotating fiber screens, ballistic motion separators, 2D and 3D optical sorters, and barrel magnets are among technologies used to separate materials. More than 2.5 miles of fast-moving conveyor belts carry materials through this single-stream processing facility.

“We’ve been running materials through our new Salt Lake MRF for almost a month now and the improvements in recovery quantities and end-product quality that we are seeing are astounding,” said Mark Snedecor, Director of Recycling Operations for Waste Management of Utah.

You can see from the pictures in the gallery below that the material coming out is very clean. If you’ll nerd out with us for a moment, those bales of aluminium and plastic achieved virtually perfect quality without a single person directly touching the sorting process. This is pretty incredible since it’s not uncommon in older MRFs to produce bales with 20% contamination. And the facility, being only a few weeks old, is continuing to be tweaked and improved.

At full capacity, the MRF can sort 35 tons of material an hour, 280 tons daily and more than 71,000 tons annually.

Salt Lake City recycles over 600+ tons of material per month from our 42,000 residential customers so there is plenty of room to grow. The recycling center won’t just serve our city, but will sort recyclables for municipalities and businesses across the state.

“This is what we set out to do, to build a facility using the latest sorting and automation technology that would recover extremely high volumes of clean recyclables,” said Snedecor. “Special thanks go out to the city of Salt Lake for their unwavering commitment to recycling and their choice to work with Waste Management to build the community a top-notch MRF. Together we really can help keep Utah cleaner and greener.”

The new MRF is also helping the City with fuel and time savings. Prior to the new facility opening, Salt Lake City was routing our recycling trucks to the Waste Management recycling center in West Jordan. Now, we’ve been able to cut 1.5 hours from each of our recycling truck’s daily drives and have gone from nine routes to eight. That’s a lot of fuel savings!

We’re excited to have the new facility located here in Salt Lake City!

SLCgreen is dedicated to seeking and securing the most advantageous partnerships possible, helping us to achieve the best recycling program for Salt Lake City residents. The new WM MRF is an example of that.

In addition to the new facility, Waste Management has also made a commitment to keep plastic recycling domestic which is an important change as global markets restructure after China and much of Asia shut their doors to accepting the world’s recycling.

Here’s how WM explains their recycling program:

“Considered the largest recycler in North America, Waste Management continues to secure legitimate domestic buyers for the recycled materials produced at its processing facilities. As such, recycling programs supported by WM not only conserve natural resources but are assured to directly support American manufacturing. The thousands of tons of viable recyclables people put in recycling carts, and WM processes, are ultimately used as the raw materials to produce a wide range of everyday goods such as toilet paper, shipping boxes, beverage cans, containers for food and medical supplies, as well as more inventive items such as athletic shoes, clothing, carpeting and building materials.”

Thank you for recycling!

See Waste Management’s press release here.

Cardboard and paper being sorted on one of the conveyor belts at Waste Management’s new Salt Lake City MRF. Video courtesy SLCgreen.
See the MRF in action!
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