BRA Addresses Paper Quality Issues to Protect End Markets

Photo credit: Bluewater Recycling Association

In late 2016 the Bluewater Recycling Association (BRA) received funding from the CIF to undertake a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) performance study.

The primary objective of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of the equipment and manual sorting stations at the single-stream MRF. The assessment was designed to pinpoint and prioritize the areas within the facility where an upgrade would result in improved recovery of materials and increased revenues.

What was causing the problem with the fibre stream?

Over time BRA operators had noticed that the cardboard (OCC) coming into the facility was smaller in size. This was potentially due to the increase in online shopping and the corresponding increase in small items being shipped to consumers in small-sized cardboard packaging.

BRA staff also recognized that with people consuming more news online, the facility was processing smaller quantities of traditional newsprint (ONP) materials. The ONP bundles were thinning out and were largely comprised of flyers and mailers.

With changes to the characteristics of the inbound materials, the existing screens for OCC and ONP were unable to accurately recognize the materials as distinct commodities on a consistent basis. Instead, on an ever-increasing basis, smaller pieces were falling through the screens and the two materials were blending together and incorrectly sorting into the same bunker, which resulted in a reduced market grade for the end product.

Almost half (44%) of the OCC entering the facility was ending up in the mixed fibre bunker, as was the majority of the ONP (88%).

What was the solution?

BRA undertook a $1.2M upgrade to correct the problem identified in the CIF funded study. One new OCC screen, with two decks and varied spacing, was installed along with a new optical sorter to manage ONP. This has enabled BRA to improve sorting efficiency, properly separate the materials and generate higher value end market commodities that meet the increasingly stringent paper market specifications. The upgrades are on track to meet a two-year return on investment.

Where can I get more information?

Municipalities province-wide are experiencing similar challenges with fibre management. To learn more about the results of the fibre line upgrades at the BRA facility register to attend the CIF ORW on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 in Collingwood at the Living Water Resort.

Francis Veilleux, BRA president will be speaking on the Material Management for Market Success panel. Francis will also share his strategies for keeping contamination levels down through P&E campaigns and curbside enforcement activities that focus on returning to ‘the basics’.

What actions can I take?

Considering upgrades to your facility?  Read the CIF project 971 BRA report to learn more about how to assess and prioritize upgrade needs.  Check out the REOI for funding opportunities that support cost savings. Email Jessica Landry about participating in CIF MRF Working Group to learn more about projects like this one and to discuss potential solutions to commonly shared challenges.