Measure Twice and Cut Once: A Tried and True Philosophy

Source: Northumberland County Project Report #515.11

Ever increasing volumes of containers, such as PET, are imposing greater and greater challenges to manual sorting systems. Light-weighting and the shift towards smaller, single serve containers has increased to the point where manual sortation is becoming overwhelmed. As such, Optical Sorting Technology (OST) is becoming necessary to manage the evolving container stream.

Northumberland County, in partnership with the CIF, is the latest municipality to address this problem by upgrading their container line with a single eject OST.  The new system has already increased recovery, and revenue, as well as helped to reduce operating costs. While the OST’s target material was PET, its installation has had additional material recovery benefits. By lowering the container line’s burden depth, sortation and recovery of non-targeted materials downstream of the OST has also been improved. Staff members are still required to QC PET recovered by the OST equipment but with the new equipment, Northumberland is now able to reduce its total sorter complement on the line and those that are still used are operating with greater material recovery efficiency.

Evaluating the pre- and post-installation performance was a key component of the project: a full year’s worth of data – before and after commissioning was evaluated. The new container line increased PET recovery by 66%; and for all other material types, recovery increased by 39% … all with four less sorters! Based on the average price per tonne, by material type recovered on the container line, Northumberland recovered an additional 369 tonnes of material and increased its revenue by $113,000 in the first year of operations of the new line. When other financial factors are included (e.g. labour savings, WSIB cost avoidance, disposal cost avoidance, etc.), the net first year financial benefit was $360,000. With a project cost of $906,000 and, with all things being equal, it is anticipated that the installation of the OST on the container line will have a payback period of approximately 2.5 years.

For more information on this project, please view the CIF Project 515.11, MRF Upgrade – Container Line Retrofit.