Waste not

New state-of-the-art ECCO Recycling and Energy Center offers industry another choice for discarded material

Calgary's only private dry-waste landfill facility will soon open a $25-million recycling and energy centre, giving the construction industry another option to recycle construction, demolition and other dry-waste materials.

ECCO Waste Systems LP's new ECCO Recycling and Energy Center will be able to process up to 300,000 tonnes per year of material that is now delivered to the landfill. The centre will divert as much as 85 per cent of materials like steel, plastic, cardboard, non-ferrous metals, wood and paper from landfills.

While the centre will use modern equipment and proven technologies, a significant point of the project is that the facility will process a diverse waste stream that will result in the production of a number of products and extract commodities for resale. The energy component of the centre will make a process-engineered fuel from the residual stream to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Alec McDougall, president of ECCO Waste Systems, says the centre is probably the most advanced integrated dry-waste processing facility in North America: "Although the technology used in the facility is not new, the building was custom built to suit the equipment suppliers' specifications and preferred layout, which will maximize the throughput."

McDougall says the facility's development was an evolving plan for some years that became economically feasible as the City of Calgary and the province of Alberta introduced more stringent regulations and provided financial incentives designed to encourage recycling.


The city's recycling initiatives are reflected by its slogan, 80/20 by 2020, which refers to the city's goal to reduce the amount of waste that enters Calgary landfills by 80 per cent by the year 2020.

"As of 2007, only 20 per cent of dry-waste material was being diverted from Calgary landfills to other uses," McDougall says. "The goal of the city is to increase that figure to 80 per cent by the year 2020."

The new facility is Alberta's newest and most highly mechanized dry-waste disposal facility. It was built by IMC Construction Group, a Red Deer, Alta.-based construction company with experience in industrial facilities.

Built at the same location as ECCO's 24th street dry-waste disposal facility, the centre's footprint is approximately 55,000 square feet, which includes the tipping and process floors, with a second-story picking floor and third-story offices, bringing the total area of the facility to approximately 65,000 square feet. The tipping floor alone is almost an acre.

The facility will accept all major components of construction, demolition and dry-waste materials, including concrete, bricks, blocks, mortar, wood, drywall, cardboard, plastics, metals and shingles. The materials are sorted by size and density into "fines," "lights," "mediums" and "heavies" before being further separated by material type.

After the materials enter the facility and are pre-sorted, the materials are then loaded into a slow-speed shredder that reduces the material to a 12-inch size or less before further processing. A vibratory screen will remove the two-inch-minus-sized fines, which are conveyed outside.

Next, the waste stream enters two parallel air classifiers. The heavies are rejected and conveyed to an outdoor bunker, rejoining the fines for producing aggregates or alternate daily cover. The balance of the stream is processed by the air classifiers to separate lights, which are comprised of paper, cardboard and film plastic from a residual "mediums" stream, which includes non-ferrous metals, wood and miscellaneous other materials.

Lights are sorted by hand with a vacuum assist to separate plastics and cardboard, with a residual stream that is mainly paper and other light materials, such as insulation.

The mediums are conveyed along a 60-inch-wide rubber belt, where they are hand sorted to separate clean wood, recyclable metals and rejected materials that are not suitable for fuel or comprised of salvageable material. There are five cross-belt magnetic separators along the process line to remove ferrous metals from the stream for resale and to prevent equipment damage.

Since ECCO opened its 24th street dry-waste disposal facility in 1994, the company has developed recycled products including ECCO Chips-a high-quality, non-toxic wood mulch product made from ground and coloured waste wood-and co-founded ECCOpave Inc., a company that makes asphalt crumb from tear-off asphalt shingles for use in new asphalt pavement, reducing the requirement for virgin bitumen.

Clean wood is ground in a high-speed grinder to make a number of saleable products, including coloured mulch, made on site and bagged, animal bedding, and absorptive material for the oil and gas industry. Salvaged metals and drywall will either be sold off-site or processed further before sale.


In addition to recovering commodities for reuse and feedstock for a variety of products, the new facility will also incorporate additional elements to make a process-engineered fuel from the residual stream for supplementing the use of fossil fuels in thermal plants. This stage of the facility is forecast to increase the total resource recovery by the facility upwards of 85 per cent of the facility input.

The layout and design of the centre will make delivering waste to this facility simpler and faster for haulers compared to current operations and competing sites. "[The centre] includes new features designed specifically with haulers in mind," McDougall says. "The facility has both attended and automated weighing that allows for extended hours of operation, indoor tipping and eliminates exposure to landfill hazards."

Once the facility is operational, ECCO will pursue other recycling endeavours. "Our next recycling ventures include a possible contract with the City of Calgary to mine the adjacent, closed Ogden landfill to salvage buried asphalt and concrete, and to recover any useable metals and wood by processing them through [the new centre]," McDougall says.
"We're also thinking about adding several remote recycling facilities to receive more waste material for delivery to [the centre] for processing. And in the future, we might construct similar facilities in other locations throughout Alberta."

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