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A Queensland-based Material Recovery Facility (MRF) has been able to more efficiently process and bale recyclables using an automated sorting solution designed and implemented by SAGE Automation.


Resource Management: Waste


A Queensland-based Material Recovery Facility (MRF) has been able to more efficiently process and bale recyclables using an automated sorting solution designed and implemented by SAGE and our customer.


Full control system design, panel manufacture, HMI, VSD, FTView SCADA, PLC.


Regional, Queensland, Australia


A large Regional Council in Queensland with a rapidly growing population, currently in excess of 150,000 residents.

More than 100,000 tonnes of waste are produced by this population annually and this figure is expected to rise at a rate of 2.5% annually.


The Council provide a weekly kerbside collection of waste for residents using 240 litre mobile bins. The waste is separated into general, green and recyclable waste. The recyclable waste is exported to be re-used by overseas markets.

Recent changes to waste exporting require waste to be sorted and baled into like materials prior to their shipment overseas. The Council required a Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to sort the recyclable waste into bales for export, engaging our customer to deliver the purpose-built facility.


Our customer engaged SAGE Automation to assist with the electrical controls and automation of a new MRF and glass plant in a purpose-built facility.

The solution involves the recyclable waste travelling along conveyor lines and being sorted into like materials using optical sorters. The sorters use air pressure to separate paper from cardboard and cans from bottles, these items are then transferred into a designated bin. The operators can use the system HMI to select sorted materials from the bin to be compressed and baled with the same materials – a requirement for international export.

Glass is collected along a separate line and crushed for recycling.

SAGE provided the control systems for the auxiliary equipment in the factory. This includes important elements such as controlling the speed of the conveyor the recyclables travel on, the optical sorter, as well as the emptying of bins into the baler. The design uses PLCs, HMI, VSDs and FTView SCADA which form part of the controls for the main recyclables and the glass line plant Motor Control Centres (MCCs).

SAGE developed PLC and HMI software to ensure quality of system functionality and data aspects of the project. This includes implementing tablet devices with the HMI, enabling operators to view and control the plant from any location within the facility.

The conveyor system

SAGE delivered controls for the conveyors and additional sorting equipment that is used to transport the recyclables around the MRF. From their initial delivery point the products are sent along a conveyor system to the optical sorters. Once the items are sorted into like materials they are then transported to bins where they are stored until they are baled.


The optical sorter

Optical sorters use camera technology to differentiate between different product material on the conveyor. Once the material has been identified, the optical sorter uses air pressure to blow items down the correct chute and into the designated collection bin. SAGE ensured the successful integration of Machinex optical sorters within the system.


The MRF was delivered within a tight time frame and the Council were able to maintain their operation schedule throughout the project. The finished solution enables council to ensure a more stable and sustainable recycling program by sorting collected curbside waste such as plastic, cardboard, aluminium and glass and bundle like products for future repurposing.


The system enables the council to efficiently sort recyclable waste into like materials and bale them for export.




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