Huron Park, Ontario-based Bluewater Recycling Association (BRA) prides itself on the services it provides and the products it produces. BRA is one of the largest multimunicipal resource management organizations in Canada, processing some 20,000 metric tons of recyclables annually from the 20 municipalities it serves.

About eight years ago, it invested in a single-stream processing system from Machinex, Plessisville, Quebec. At that time, Francis Veilleux, BRA president, said the design was well-thought-out to emphasize quality over quantity. It was a departure from many material recovery facility (MRF) designs that were geared more toward “handling large quantities of material with little regard to the quality of the end product or the amount of residue generation,” he said.

Machinex’s dedication to the project and willingness to develop a solution that fit Bluewater’s needs all those years ago left a lasting impression on Veilleux.

Quality assurance

BRA’s dedication to quality has not waivered all these years later. In 2017, the company decided to see whether it could improve the quality of its recyclables even further.

“We have minimized the production of mixed paper, and we have increased the production of quality ONP and OCC that meets and exceeds the new China requirements.” – Francis Veilleux

“We carried out a performance assessment of BRA’s MRF and identified areas that could benefit from improvements,” Veilleux explains.

The primary objective of the project was to evaluate the performance of the sorting equipment and manual stations and evaluate the maintenance and condition of the sorting line at the single-stream MRF. From those performance evaluations, recommendations could be made that would result in increased recovery of materials and potentially increased revenues, he adds.

From the audit, some key findings confirmed Veilleux’s suspicions that upgrades to some existing screens could help reduce contamination percentages and allow more of the higher-value fiber grades to be recovered, including the old corrugated containers (OCC) and the old newspapers (ONP) that were ending up in the mixed fiber bunker. The company also determined it could improve recovery rates for office paper that was ending up in the residue stream.

In addition, BRA wanted to prevent residues from getting into the mixed paper bunker, because it could potentially devalue or jeopardize the marketability of that material.

Armed with the information, BRA was ready to find solutions. “Our suspicions were proved and, as a result, the BRA ventured to find alternative technologies to remedy the performance of the disc screen,” Veilleux says.

Turning to Machinex

BRA decided to stick with the solutions provider that already understood the company’s dedication to quality. Machinex was the clear choice to make the improvements BRA had identified from the tests. Not only was Machinex intimately familiar with the current system, it also had a comprehensive understanding of packaging and recycling trends affecting the market.

Machinex has been our partner in the development of new processes and methodologies to enhance our facility performance,” says Veilleux. “As usual, they were honest from the start about the advantages of each technology, and they had an open mind about what we were trying to accomplish while maintaining some sort of budget to ensure a reasonable payback.”

The decision to make improvements was made in the first quarter of 2017, and BRA opted for an installation in the last quarter of 2017. Machinex had a two-week window to make the upgrade happen.

Machinex met our installation window of two weeks by having crews working around the clock until the project was completed,” Veilleux says. “They carefully planned the integration into our existing system and the impact on the rest of the equipment. Every part of the upgrade was planned and triple checked to ensure an efficient demo phase, install and startup.”

The installation included an upgrade of the Machinex OCC screen to a larger one with larger shafts to reduce wrapping and improve performance. The ONP screen was replaced with a MACH Hyspec optical sorter. Machinex not only listened to BRA but also offered expert advice even when it differed from what the client had in mind.

“Our initial focus was on ballistic separators without much focus on the optical sorter, but they showed us the options, and it became evident what our direction needed to be,” Veilleux recalls.

The optical sorter cleans the ONP by removing the metals, plastic film, brown cartons and cardboard out of the stream. It was the exact solution BRA needed.

Worth the investment

Now, a few months into working with the new MACH Hyspec optical sorter and Machinex OCC screen, Veilleux is seeing the results he was hoping for.

“The upgrade was well worth it,” he says. “We have improved the quality of all of our commodities because every piece of technology is doing what it was designed to do and none of them are overloaded.”

And the upgrade accomplished everything BRA was hoping to do. “We have minimized the production of mixed paper, and we have increased the production of quality ONP and OCC that meets and exceeds the new China requirements,” Veilleux says.

Would Veilleux work with Machinex again? “Absolutely,” he says. “They are simply the best in the industry.”

He elaborates by saying, “They have the ability to simplify a very complex system with user-friendly interfaces, and they are passionate about harnessing every bit of efficiency from all the components provided.”

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