Blog Post

My Time at the Columbus MRF

What happens to all of your cans, bottles and paper after it leaves your curb? The short (and obvious) answer to this question is that the materials go to a recycling facility. But what happens to these materials once they are dumped at a material recovery facility?

This week, I was able to learn the answer to this question and more when I toured Rumpke’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Columbus, Ohio. This facility reopened in August 2011 after a major renovation that more than doubled its efficiency and allows it to sort approximately 30 tons of recyclable materials per hour. These improvements are possible due to new equipment and advanced single stream technology. Material travels through the facility on a series of conveyer belts, which process recyclables through repetition until they are sorted and baled by type. This begins with disc screeners, which separate paper products from plastics and metals. Steel and aluminum cans are removed using electromagnets and eddy currents. Finally, the plastic bottles and jugs are sorted. Plastic bottles and cartons are removed by five optical scanners, which use infrared light to sense materials and eject them with a shot of air.  

Once sorted, materials are compacted into huge bales to be shipped to various manufacturers. These recyclables will be used to create new products, including new aluminum cans, irrigation pipes, and fiberglass insulation. The turnaround time for  an aluminum can, from the time it enters the MRF to when it is back on the shelves is about 60 days. It’s a great feeling, knowing that the materials you recycle are being used by local manufacturers to create new products.

About the author: Maureen Ray is a corporate communications intern at Rumpke.

« Back.