GFL is acutely aware that recycling is critical to the future of our planet, to reduce the amount of garbage disposed of in landfills and ensure that scarce resources are recovered and reused. As such, it forms an integral part of our commitment to protecting the environment, and supporting our customers’ sustainability goals.
GFL owns or manages more than 20 Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) across North America that use a range of state-of-the-art technologies to sort and prepare recyclable material for resale and reuse. Our MRFs employ ballistic screens, optical sorters, robotics, and more, to sort a wide array of precious reusable resources such as wood, paper, cardboard and plastics, thereby diverting them from landfills.
Transformational forces of evolving waste streams and tightening market specifications in the recycling industry, along with increased customer demand for alternative and more sustainable waste management practices, have propelled GFL to invest in advanced technology for recycling solutions.
GFL’s largest and most advanced MRFs located in Toronto, Ontario and Denver, Colorado, can process material at a combined rate of approximately 95 tonnes per hour with an annual capacity of up to 600,000 tonnes. These MRFs employ multiple optical sorters and AI robotics across their systems to optimize operational efficiencies, resource recovery, and end product purity.
When GFL installed an AI-powered robotic recycling system in its Denver MRF in 2016, it was the first of its kind in Southern Colorado. Developed by Colorado-based AMP Robotics, the system’s sophisticated eye views, recognizes, and learns over time the various colors, textures, shapes, sizes and patterns of food and beverage cartons in the recycling stream, while the robot’s arm picks, sorts and places cartons for recycling. The robot has a pick rate of 80 items per minute, which is nearly double the average pick rate of a human, boosting efficiency and results. This AI robotic system is one of only a few in service in MRFs across North America (see also our Winnipeg MRF below) with the capacity to learn, collect data and establish recycling patterns.
In 2020, GFL’s MRF in Winnipeg, Manitoba was awarded the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) 2020 Recycling Facility of the Year, which recognizes leading North American recycling facilities based on key factors such as innovation, sustainability and environmental impact.
The MRF was commissioned by the City of Winnipeg to handle residential recycling, support province-wide recycling programs, and meet evolving recycling demands. GFL’s technical MRF experts worked with the City of Winnipeg to develop a facility that would satisfy these needs, and implement an efficient, flexible and innovative system that could manage potential shifts in material composition, maximize recovery rates, and increase the value of recyclable commodities.
The Winnipeg MRF opened for operation in October 2019. At 80,000 square feet, it comprises approximately 90% automated and 10% manual sorting, and houses one of the most advanced fiber and plastic recovery systems in Canada. The facility is also home to a SamurAI™ fully automated sorting robot, designed and manufactured by Machinex Industries Inc. that uses sensors to distinguish recyclable materials at ultra-high speed.
Despite current average contamination rates of approximately 15% for inbound materials, the Winnipeg MRF’s recovery rate is approximately 90%. In 2020, the facility recovered over 52,000 metric tons of material resulting in approximately 121,385 tons of CO2e emissions avoided.Find a Location Near You