Maximizing Revenues at the City of Hamilton

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Aluminum bale prepared for market

After completing an efficiency and effectiveness audit on its container line in 2014, the City of Hamilton set to work on implementing a series of changes and upgrades to improve its capture rates and revenue earning potential.

The study (CIF Project 816.3) estimated that the City of Hamilton could obtain approximately $700,000 in additional revenues annually if all of the material entering the container line were correctly sorted to their appropriate grades. Although it’s not realistic to expect a 100% capture for all materials, it was clear that revenue earned from the higher capture of just a few of the valuable commodities could allow for a payback on an investment into the facility.

To that end, an existing film-grabber was reconfigured to improve its performance to reduce the burden of sorting film on all downstream sort stations.  Film plastic often wraps around other materials and equipment and the high volumes of it in the sorting system reduced the effectiveness of manual and mechanical sort stations. Fixing the film-grabber improved capture of higher value materials such as HDPE.

The City also installed a second optical sorter to increase the capture of PET, which was being improperly sorted or lost to residue.  The audit indicated that as much as 21% of PET (bottles, jugs and jars) entering the facility was missed.  Based on commodity values at the time, this represented a lost revenue earning opportunity of a projected $302,500.

The new optical sorter, a Hyperspectral SWIR, designed by Machinex Recycling Services Inc., was installed in November 2016. Jen Addison, MRF Project Manager says, “we’re monitoring its post installation performance closely, and while early, all signs indicate that the PET capture rates have risen significantly”.

Given the existing optical sorter, a Titech PolySort 1400 DVB, is capable of sorting film plastic, it was reprogrammed to do so.

Manual sortation to further increase marketable commodities

As an additional measure the City installed a residue clean up line to limit the loss of commodities at this stage. The Titech optical sorter pulls the film plastic before it hits the residue line which limits visual obstructions and ensures that the manual sorters positioned there are able to more clearly see and pull valuable items. Hamilton staff is pleased to report that, again while early, all signs point to a reduction in the percentage of targeted materials lost to landfill.

Before the upgrades, it was estimated that as much as 13% of the aluminum food and beverage cans, at an estimated value of $172,300 were being lost, in addition to 20% of the HDPE, at an estimated $113,800 value.

Addison notes, “staff has been busy implementing measuring and monitoring controls to determine the extent to which they are continuing to improve over the baseline metrics detailed in their audit report. We’re keeping in close contact with CIF and look forward to sharing further updates under Project 849 as they become ready”.  Suffice it to say, auditing identifies meaningful opportunities for improvements and pursuing those opportunities pays off.

For more information: email Carrie Nash

For a tour of the Hamilton Facility, contact Jen Addison: jennifer.addison@hamilton.ca

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