Green Recycling Center Customer Story

Volvo Goes Green at Recycling Center

Mauricio Tobon likes to talk about waste recycling. "If you recycle your Sunday newspaper every week for one year, you save three trees," says Tobon, the recycling manager at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), a recycling center run by Penn Waste Inc. in York, Pa.

State of the Art = Success

"We went green with this new recycling facility," Tobon continues. "There is only one landfill in York County. It feels good to be doing something that contributes to society as a whole and helps to save the environment."

The new state-of-the-art facility is an unqualified success. In operation since February 2008, Penn Waste's MRF recycles and sorts single-stream household waste - paper, cardboard, glass, metals and plastics. For about six years, the company has operated a commingled waste facility - which sorts metals, glass and plastics, but not paper or cardboard - on the same site as the MRF.

Today's recycling technology enables waste recovery companies like Penn Waste to sort the paper and cardboard from the plastics, glass, and metals. That way, homeowners need not separate the paper and cardboard from other recyclable waste.

More than 30 trucks per day bring waste material to the MRF in York. Working 20 hours per day, the facility processes approximately 4,000 tons of singlestream waste per month. Recently the MRF began processing construction and demolition debris, and in one week produced 191 tons of recycled construction materials - sorted into wood, masonry, drywall, paper, cardboard and metal.

Workers and Machines

The recycling process calls for an interesting blend of workers and machines. As we entered the MRF (which is the size of an indoor sports arena), we immediately noticed a Volvo MC80B skid steer hustling to grab single-stream waste with its scrap grapple and feed the material onto a large conveyor.

"That Volvo skid steer is the backbone of this operation," says Tobon. "That's the machine that makes everything happen, because it feeds the unsorted waste to the in-feed conveyor. We really like the maneuverability of the Volvo skid steer loaders. They can turn on a dime. And don't let their small size fool you. Those little machines are powerful."

At the MRF, Penn Waste operates two Volvo skid steer loaders. Each loader handles one 10-hour shift, and the working conditions are difficult. There's considerable dust, and when the loader pushes up into a pile, the waste nearly covers the machine.

Operator Bill Newbould says he really likes the Volvo skid steers. "I've run Bobcat and Caterpillar skid steers and I like the Volvo best," he says. "I like the maneuverability, and it's very smooth and responsive. And the foot throttle is really nice. You can ease into it with that throttle."

From the in-feed conveyor, the single-stream waste moves to an elevated conveyor that passes four workers who sort out plastic containers and bags by hand. Next, the material moves across screens where large disks rotate in the waste stream and sort out the cardboard. A second set of disks follows and sorts out paper, which falls back to the floor of the MRF. Plastic, metals, and glass fall through to be processed at the nearby commingled waste facility.

As the paper falls to the MRF floor, it doesn't take long to build up an 8 to 10-foot-tall pile. When enough paper has piled up, a Volvo L30B Pro compact loader attacks the pile and pushes paper onto a six-foot wide conveyor that takes it to a baler. "That compact loader really gets the job done," says Newbould, who has run every machine in the MRF. "That little loader gets around very well, and can move into tight places easily."

Construction Debris

In another corner of the MRF, a Volvo EC160C excavator, fitted with a full grapple, picks up pieces of construction waste and places it on a conveyor. The conveyor elevates the material and places it onto a moving belt with 14 individual work stations. There, workers sort out wood, masonry, drywall, paper, cardboard and metal. "We figure that 50 to 70 percent of the waste in a construction dumpster is recyclable," says Lauren Washburn, a communications specialist for Penn Waste.

Near the entrance, a Volvo L90F loader does two jobs, both of the cleanup variety. The big loader pushes construction waste from where trucks dump it into the larger pile. And it helps push single-stream household waste over closer to the Volvo skid steer loaders.  That way, the high-production skid steer loaders have no travel distance at all. It can push into the pile, back up a bit, pivot and dump gradually onto the in-feed conveyor.

Operator Newbould operates both the Volvo excavator and the larger loader, and he well appreciates their abilities. "I like the EC160C excavator, he says. "It's done everything we ask it to, and we've done some pretty heavy lifting with it. Not long ago some guy knocked down a section of concrete barrier wall, and we used the EC160C to pick it back up. It worked great."

The partnership among Volvo Construction Equipment, Highway Equipment, and Penn Waste to deliver 'green' solutions benefits both our society and our environment - and in the words of Mauricio Tobon, "that feels good!"

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