For Peter van der Linde, owner of van der Linde Recycling near Charlottesville, VA, progress since opening in late 2008 has been extraordinary. van der Linde comes from a residential construction background where he was a homebuilder for 30 years. After creating a roll-off container rental business to supplement his own hauling needs as a contractor, he began to take a closer look at what was being thrown away. He knew he could do better than letting good building material go into a landfill. After much research van der Linde Recycling was born with the installation of the largest construction and demolition (C&D) separator Sherbrooke O.E.M. had installed up to that time. The 70,000 sq. ft. C&D processing facility opened its doors in December of 2008, concurrent with the economic meltdown. Construction waste stopped. The timing couldn’t have been worse.
For those first several months, he said he scrambled to bring in sufficient material to keep the operation going. Almost immediately, he began the permitting and construction of another facility to receive comingled recyclables and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) as an additional source of supply to meet his company’s needs. “We also went into concrete crushing and wood grinding,” he says. “We were looking to make two new products: gravel and mulch. We were taking in a lot of dried wood waste that gave us the ability to build a mulch business selling brown and black dyed mulch. We were also able to recycle the concrete into three gravel products. The diversification helped us while the C&D waste stream began to recover.”
A year later, in Nov. 2009, the MSW facility opened. With ongoing awareness on the part of surrounding businesses and communities looking for a safe and reliable place to recycle their C&D and MSW, van der Linde was able to continue without interruption. “Today we have a 50-50 intake of material, half C&D and half MSW. Right now we are averaging about 800 tons per day, 400 tons of each,” he said. This continued growth and his mission to recover as much material as possible prompted van der Linde to expand the MSW sorting capabilities again.
The new system, a design of van der Linde’s own making, has a compact footprint because the building is only 18,000 sq. ft. “Almost from the beginning I was working on how I could expand our operations to incorporate more automation and improve critical processes such as tearing open bags. We are very excited to see our years of design and planning actually come to fruition. It has been a crawl, walk, run process. I could not have done it without the help of many, lead by our Project Manager and Design Engineer Brad Purviance. He was able to take my ideas, add many of his own and create what we needed. With the exception of electric, everything was done in-house.” van der Linde said, “It was also important for us to design a machine that could service all customers in our market. We wanted to make sure we were equipped to process both ‘all in one’ containers which include food waste, as well as, ‘source separated’ material where the recyclables are put into a separate container.” During our tour it was interesting to see how much innovative thought went into the design and layout of the new system.
The MSW operation starts on the tipping floor at receiving where the team begins the recovery process by harvesting large bulky metal material like BBQ grills and bikes and large rigid plastic items like wading pools and buckets. They also remove items such as fire extinguishers, propane tanks, and lead acid batteries. The material is then pushed onto the infeed belt by a CAT 950H loader where it starts its assent onto the actual machinery. “Our pre-sort continues to remove bulky and awkward items like garden hoses, microwaves, paint buckets and extension cords. They are looking for anything that could potentially gum up the machine” says van der Linde. The material then moves into the custom built McClosky bag breaker and first stage fines removal code named “Jaws” because no bag escapes unopened. Post sort follows with the single focus of removing the broken bags from the process. He says, “This is a very important step because the bags not only block automation components from identifying the material during subsequent processes, but they can also bind up the machinery.”
The process continues into the second stage fines remover and glass breaker, before flowing into the MachineEx OCC screen for cardboard recovery. These processes are followed by the Sherbrooke O.E.M. fiber screen to recover paper. The fiber screen then discharges into a dedicated Harris Horizontal bailer. Their fiber recovery is further enhanced by the BloApCo suction system designed by Air-Craftsman. “This system has allowed us to strategically place bell housing suction in-feeds so any paper that escaped the fiber screen gets redirected and harvested,” stated van der Linde.
The recovery process moves onto the main sort table where the BloApCo suction intakes maximize fiber and film recovery. “The strength of this stage is the negative sort design. We are not using manual labor to do the work of machinery we are enhancing the recovery process by removing material that may have slipped through the cracks. Our goal is 100% recovery of the recyclables. Everything we do and have designed has been done with that goal in mind,” van der Linde disclosed. The custom storage bunkers, designed and created by van der Linde’s in-house team, are significant because of their ability to drop material directly onto the product belt without disrupting or slowing the recovery process. “We included two bailers in our system so we are constantly moving finished product out of the building directly into four waiting 53’ box trailers.” Their second bailer is a Marathon Ram Pro 2 Ram TR10-75 and can bale just about anything including rigid plastics and light steel.
The recovery process does not end there. Material continues to flow under the Eriez Ferrous metal electro magnet to recover steel and tin. It then moves onto the MSS Sapphire, S1600 optical sorter, powered by a Kaeser Screw compressor, which is capable of recovering three grades of plastic. The other four plastic grades are harvested on the main sort table. The Dings Eddy current which pulls aluminum from the stream was combined with a third BloApCo system to further enhance aluminum recovery. This final station sucks product directly into the aluminum silo where it is held until ready to bail.
Of all of the innovative features on van der Linde’s MSW machine he is most proud of the recirculate component. “Our endless loop recirculation capability sets us apart in our industry,” he added, commenting on this unique design feature. “Other facilities have only ‘one-pass’ capability. If it is not pulled out the first time it is lost forever to the landfill. We added a conveyor leg that will bring material back to the intake side of the system so that if an aluminum can slips through the eddy current magnet or a plastic bottle escapes the optical sorter undetected, we will be able to capture it the second or third time around. This distinctive feature gives us control of the recovery rate. It also allows for a break in the recovery process should material back up in a certain place or if one of the sorting devices malfunctions briefly. This is a game changer.”
All of van der Linde’s critical component controls and status lights for the bailers and compactor are located on a glass skybox enabling one person to visually and electronically overview the entire process. Any residual material that remains goes onto a belt that feeds into a Marathon 1475 compactor. Not surprisingly, van der Linde had not even finished our tour before he was talking about anaerobic digestion, the next enhancement on their planning board which will convert the residual food waste into compressed natural gas for fueling vehicles.
“Initially we are planning to recover more than 80 percent of the MSW recyclables we receive,” he said. “Right now with our C&D rate at 90+ percent; it’s very satisfying to feel purposeful environmentally while serving the recycling and disposal needs of our community.” For more information, visit the van der Linde Recycling website at www.vanderlinderecycling.com.