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List of MRFs municipal and commercial materials recovery facilities in operation for Recycling Systems Companies.

List of Separation Methods Used to Divert Waste from Landfill and Recycle

A list of DRY waste separation methods for municipal solid waste materials are provided, with a short description of each. These separation techniques will become increasingly familiar as the solid waste management techniques used to divert waste from landfill and recycle continue to be developed, to process and recycle more and more of the world's municipal solid waste.

Image shows an optical air-jet sorter in action as part of a list of waste separation methods.
An air-jet just below the conveyor blows pieces of plastic film upward, with split second accuracy, when seen by a series of cameras mounted above. The film then drops onto a second (upper) conveyor (not visible) from which it is baled for recycling.

Here is our Waste Separation Technology list:

1. Trommel Screeners are sifting units that are rotated as recyclable materials are fed into their interior. Also known as drum screens, they are large rotary drums shaped with a grate-like surface, with large end openings to separate very coarse materials from bulk materials, such as organic material/food from paper/film or coarse plastics from finer material, etc.

2. Concentrating tables or density separators. These screen bulk materials based on the density (specific gravity), and the size and shape of the particles.

The techniques used vary between manufacturers, and the purpose is often also to separate “2D” papers and films, from “3D” items.

Image showing waste separation methods - air classifier/ stoner.3. Air classifiers, cones or cyclones which use a spiral air flow action, or acceleration within a chamber to separate or classify solid particles, have been updated and modified for MSW sorting. As seen in the air classifier / density separator for garbage in the picture below. This MSW air classifier uses an upward air current to lift paper and plastics out, while heavier material like stones fall into a skip below. These are ideal for separating light material such as paper and plastic from heavier / dense material like aluminium and plastic bottles.

Image shows a Magnetic Separator from the list of waste separation methods.4. Magnetic separators use powerful magnetic fields to separate iron, steel, ferrosilicon, or other ferromagnetic materials from non-magnetic bulk materials. The magnetic field may be generated by permanent magnets or electromagnets. The metal items lift and stick to the magnetic band, and the ferrous metal items once removed, drop off into a skip.

5. Electrostatic separators. These use preferential ionization or charging of particles to separate conductors from dielectrics (non conductors).

6. Optical air-jet sorters, use cameras to detect predetermined plastics such as bottles, film, etc. As they pass, accurately timed and positioned air-jets propel selected items upward, and off the conveyor belt. Several of these sorters can be used in a MRF to select different types of plastic.

7. Hydrocyclones are a type of Static Separator based on centrifugal separation, in which a vortex is generated with a cono-cylindrical configuration.

All these types of separation equipment may be found in Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) (also known as Materials Recovery Facilities).

This type of waste separation equipment is normally found in materials recycling facilities (MRFs). These are owned by local authorities (LAs), and operated by waste management companies on long-term design build and operate contracts, who are paid to collect household, industrial and commercial waste and process it and avoid the need to send it to landfill.

Watch our video which shows you additional video footage of each of our listed Top 7 Waste Separation Methods:

Attributions for clips and images used. Click to enlarge, if required.


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  1. Imagine all those fossil fuels that are wasted, just because plastic bottle manufacturers want to make money. Capitalism’s evil twin – exposed. But there’s hope…. We CAN do better.

  2. It sprededs jerms and if you pick it up u can get jerms on ur hands and don’t wash them and u eat u will get i’ll and I fink if u don’t put it in the bin and I don’t know if you should eat it and drop a little bit of crumbs on the floor and I have been learning about rubbish.

    • Carlos Bennett
    • 22 April 2018

    I’m wondering does all the trash just disintegrate or get recycled into something useful?

    • Patrick Barnes
    • 24 April 2018

    Superb!!! Superb!!! Superb!!! Its so amazing and innovative!!! You got a new subscriber here….?

    • RaymondW
    • 29 September 2018

    Awesome moving images of trash moving along conveyors etc. Caught my eye looking for waste separation technologies How do you get those pics? Can I use on my blog?

  3. India faces major environmental challenges associated with waste generation and inadequate waste collection. waste disposal services or if you need a Solid Waste Management –

  4. I’m wondering does all the trash just disintegrate or get recycled into something useful.

  5. Yes. Each recyclate stream is sold – but prices obtained can be low at the moment. Metals are melted down and reused in for-example, new drink cans. Glass is also melted and used in new glass. Plastics are the biggest problem as they are so light and transport costs are high. Nevertheless, although there have been problems in the last year or so due to the ban on sending waste to China for recycling, the plastics are also re-used. The UK government has announced that they will legislate to require a percentage of all plastic packaging to contain recycled plastic, and that should stimulate the market in recycled plastic.

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