Database of Waste Management Technologies Life

Case Study 2 - Materials Recovery Facility (MRF)


General Information Photo Gallery
Name: Exeter MRF case study 2

Exeter MRF.

case study 2

Stockpile of sorted News and PAMs grade paper ready for delivery to the reprocessor.

case study 2

The TiTech uses high-precision jets of pressurised air to blow contaminants off the line.

Owner: Exeter City Council
Operator: Exeter City Council
Technology: MRF
Designed Capacity:  11,000 tpa
Cost: n/a
Location: Exeter, UK
Served Area: Exeter, UK
Commercial Start Up: 2001
Contact Details
Address: Exeter City Council
Exton Road
Marsh Barton
Devon EX2 8EQ
United Kingdom
Phone Number: +44 01392 665010
Fax: -
Website: -


Short Description

Exeter City Council’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) was one of the first in the country to process co-mingled household recyclates, including most forms of rigid and flexible plastic. The plant is owned and operated by the City Council, being completed in 2001 at a cost of £1.7m, with technology upgrades in 2006 and 2008.

The Local Authority provides residents with a single green bin for paper, cardboard, plastic, steel and aluminium. Glass is collected separately. The green bins are emptied fortnightly, and their contents delivered to the MRF located in the Marsh Barton Industrial Estate.

The MRF processes around 10,000 tons of mixed recycling each year from the Exeter 'Recycle from Home' scheme on a single shift with a staff of 26. The outputs are sold on for reprocessing domestically and abroad.

The MRF has a fully equipped training room and hosts frequent visits from local schools, community groups and individual members of the public.

Pre sorted materials such as paper and glass from banks, or collected from local businesses are taken straight to stockpiles on the Recycling Park for onward transport to reprocessors.

The Council also makes the stocktaking facilities available to community based recyclers, other councils and private recycling companies and making payments for the material as appropriate.

The problem & solution

As part of a Devon-wide contract the Exeter MRF supplies Aylesford Newsprint’s paper mill in Kent with high grade recovered Newsprint, Periodicals and Magazines (News and PAMs). A few years ago Exeter faced a problem which threatened to jeopardise this relationship and undermine the goal of maximising the city’s recycling rate. At the time paper coming to the Exeter plant was sorted manually by eight people in a picking cabin. Between 2002 and 2007 the volume of material collected at the kerbside almost doubled. That had as result to increase the people in handpicking and the paper output began to get contaminated. The solution gave the purchase of a TiTech optical sorter which uses optical technology to sort paper from plastic and cans at a greater rate than is achievable manually.

The plan was to use the optical sorter to carry out the bulk of paper sorting, with a skeleton staff performing final ‘polishing’ of the output streams.

The new kit was expensive and, with public money at stake, approval for the purchase took a long time. Meanwhile, in the six months to October 2007 Aylesford rejected several paper consignments on the grounds of quality.

The optical sorter was installed in March 2008.

The total cost of kit and installation was £250,000. This price included on-going service contracts. Exeter City Council contributed the bulk of the finance, with government grants accounting for the remainder.


Key Facts

Treatment Capacity: 11,000 tpa
Input Material: Co-mingled household recyclates, paper from dedicated paper banks, small volume of local trade waste (NOT accepted: Polystyrene, mixed media plastic, glass) 11,000 tpa
Output Products: Paper (News and PAMs), cardboard, rigid and flexible plastic (PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP), aluminium cans, steel cans, textiles n/a


Extra Information