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Balcones Resources breaks ground in San Antonio

May 08, 2023May 08, 2023

Balcones Resources, headquartered in Austin, Texas, broke ground on a new material recovery facility (MRF) at 6006 Freeport Rd. in San Antonio on April 5. Speakers addressing those in attendance included Balcones CEO Adam Vehik and Chief Commercial Officer Joaquin Mariel, as well as the City of San Antonio's District 4 Council Member Dr. Adriana Garcia-Rocha, Director of Solid Waste David Newman and Deputy Director of Solid Waste Josephine Valencia.

The city of San Antonio awarded Balcones Resources its municipal recycling contract last year, kicking off the development of the Balcones Resources Recycling Campus. The contract is scheduled to begin in August of next year.

The recycling facility represents a $61 million investment in the San Antonio community's recycling program, Balcones says. The MRF will process residential and commercial single-stream material and will feature the latest in sorting technology from CP Group, San Diego, including auger screens that eliminate the presort station. A CP Primary Auger screen will scalp 6-inch-minus material, and two patented old corrugated containers (OCC) Auger Screens will scalp 8-inch-minus material to produce a clean OCC end product. These three machines are located before any sorters, allowing for downstream sorting efficiency of fractionated material streams, according to the manufacturer.

Material then is sent to a four-deck glass breaker screen and LightsOut ADS to remove and clean glass. After the glass is removed, the material goes to two high-volume disc screens, a CP AntiWrap Screen for the midsize fraction and a CPScreen for the small fraction material, which liberate conjoined material and fines. Disc Screens split material by mechanical properties so the downstream automated sorting equipment can achieve the highest efficiencies, CP says.

Five MSS FiberMax optical sorters will use different sorting recipes, depending on the unit's position in the MRF, to positively sort fiber, OCC and contaminants.

On the container line, three MSS PlasticMax optical sorters will sort polyethylene terephthalate (PET), high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP).

A magnet will remove ferrous, and an eddy current will remove nonferrous material.

Finally, two MSS AI (artificial intelligence) units will be used to quality control containers, specifically PET and aluminum.

The MRF also will be equipped with three balers: one single-ram for cardboard and two two-ram balers. Each commodity has the opportunity to reach two balers for redundancy.

With a processing capacity of more than 50 tons per hour, the MRF will support the city's zero-waste goals and serve as a community resource, equipped with an education center for outreach initiatives and drop-off options for materials not accepted in the curbside program, Balcones says.

"I was very intrigued about [this project] because of the education center, and specifically the viewing gallery," Garcia-Rocha said. "As an educator, I am always happy to be able to tell our students how we do things. This [site] is near three school districts."

"Our industry is plagued by a lot of misinformation about what works in recycling and what doesn't," Vehik said. "And we want to be a resource that allows you to really understand what is going on in the recycling world."

Balcones says the campus design prioritizes employee wellness and safety, while the equipment features the latest technology to ensure Balcones produces the highest-grade material possible. All recyclables will be marketed in North America, prioritizing Texas-based companies.

The company says it will create approximately 70 new full-time environmental jobs in San Antonio to operate the facility.

The campus will include a number of resources:

"This is a source of pride," Vehik added. "We care about recovering as many recyclables as we can, and we care about building strong partnerships with our customers. Everything we do we take a lot of pride in, and we hope that is something that can be shared with the city of San Antonio."