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APC visits Australia’s largest materials recovery facility, Visy’s ‘Super MRF’

Fri 21 April 2017

The APC team visits the Visy 'Super MRF' in Smithfield NSW.

On the 4th of April, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation staff visited APC members Visy at their materials recovery facility (MRF) in Smithfield, NSW. The largest of its kind in Australia, Visy appropriately calls it the ‘Super MRF’.

The Smithfield plant has operational capacity to sort and process up to 265,000 tonnes of recyclables per annum. In the two hours that the APC team were present, an estimated 100 tonnes were processed!

The materials able to be segregated include paper, cardboard, hard plastics, steel, glass and aluminium that is brought in by council kerbside collection vehicles.

The state-of-the-art facility was developed with an estimated capital cost of $30 million and commenced operations in July 2006.

The Visy ‘Super MRF’ is the largest of 653 resource recovery facilities (not including container deposit facilities) that service the Australian population of 24 million people.

APC staff members approach the drying section of the paper mill.

Sharing the same address as the MRF is Visy’s paper mill that sources fibre for pulp from baled commercial cardboard sources and directly from the MRF via a conveyor belt. This mill produces recycled paper and cardboard for use in the manufacture of recycled cardboard packaging. Visy usually transforms this stock into corrugated cardboard boxes.

The APC staff heard from Visy guides that although their high-tech MRF facility enables cutting-edge infrared polymer, ferrous, non-ferrous as well as mechanical size, weight sorting of most materials, soft plastics continue to cause issues by being difficult to remove from paper thus contaminating the paper stream, as well as getting caught throughout the machinery.

The tour of Visy's 'Super MRF' is important for our staff as it emphasises not only the scale of our members’ operations, but also the common problems faced by all MRFs, even one of this magnitude.

The APC is committed to addressing the challenges associated with soft plastics recycling and  recently released a white paper with key recommendations around a circular economy for soft plastics. Read the white papers here.

A big thank you to Visy for their time to show us around their facility. If you would like to host the APC on a site visit of your organisation, please contact Marta Scuccuglia on (02) 8381 3714 or email mscuccuglia@packagingcovenant.org.au.

APC CEO Trish Hyde inspects the end of the paper mill production line where the final recycled paper product is loaded onto reels for further processing.

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