The purpose of a Material Recovery Facility, generally referred to as a "MRF" (pronounced "murf") is to sort co-mingled (mixed) recyclables into individual material types, including paper, cardboard, glass, plastics, steel and aluminium. The sorted materials are baled (except for glass, which is stored in skip bins) and can then be sold to recyclers for use in the manufacture of new products.

The MRF has capacity to sort recyclables from City of Newcastle (CN) household yellow lid bins, recyclables from other Councils and some recyclables from the commercial sector, such as shops and restaurants.

The sorted recyclables will be free of contaminants and of high quality so recycling markets can be easily found.

Why is a Material Recovery Facility needed?

Prior to 2020, household recyclables collected from most Hunter Councils —including CN— were sorted locally at a privately owned MRF in Gateshead. When this facility—the only MRF in the Hunter— closed unexpectedly in 2020, our recyclables had to be transported to a MRF on the Central Coast.

By owning and operating a MRF to sort recyclables here in Newcastle, we can:

  • Reduce costs and greenhouse gas emissions associated with long distance haulage.
  • Remove the risk of unexpected closure of the MRF and provide continuity of your kerbside recycling service into the future.
  • Provide more control over the quality of the sorting process and the market prices we can fetch for the sorted materials.
  • Provide greater assurance over what happens to your household recyclables.
  • Create up to 28 new local jobs.
  • Reduce processing costs, through economies of scale achieved by accepting recyclables from other Councils and the commercial sector.
  • Together with our proposed Organics Processing Facility, create a resource recovery hub that will incentivise the establishment of secondary businesses and create additional jobs.

We have undertaken four community surveys over the last three years which established that 98% of survey respondents support building a MRF at Summerhill Waste Management Centre.

Key features

  • Fully enclosed building including the storage of recyclables.
  • Capable of sorting recyclables from CN household yellow lid bins (approximately 15,000 tonnes per year) and a further 70,000 tonnes from other Councils and the commercial sector, such as shops and restaurants.
  • State-of-the-art sorting and processing technology, including conveyors, screens, optical separators, eddy current equipment, glass breakers and bailers.
  • Highly automated process that produces clean and high-quality materials that can fetch best prices.
  • Removal of non-recyclable material (contamination) by hand which is landfilled.
  • Paper, cardboard, aluminium, steel and plastics are baled and glass is placed in bins for efficient storage. As markets become available, the clean and sorted materials are loaded onto trucks for transport to recycling facilities where they are used to manufacture new products.

Want to know more?

View our answers to Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about the proposed facility. You can also view our Fact Sheet.

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