Yaphank, NY – Sept. 18, 2020

– New equipment allows for more and better recycling.
Commodity collapse resulted in major changes for processing recyclables.
Jeff Nella

Jeff Nella, Material Recover Facility Manager at the Brookhaven MRF

Winters Bros. Recycling of Long Island, LLC has unveiled its newest recycling center at the Brookhaven Material Recovery Facility in Yaphank, NY.  The new facility represents a $7.5 million capital investment to upgrade and install new equipment that will result in improved processing to make high-quality recyclables from material collected from homes and businesses.

Winters Bros. was awarded the contract to operate the Town’s facility following the collapse of the recycling commodities markets in 2018.  The devastation of the markets resulted in significant changes to curbside recycling programs throughout the United States,” said Will Flower.  “The Town of Brookhaven understood the challenges that recyclers were facing and worked quickly and effectively to facilitate a move to improve the processing of recyclables while adjusting its curbside program.  The Town also implemented a series of drop-off centers to enhance glass recycling.”

Equipment for the new facility was ordered in December 2019 and was installed by May 2020.  “The pandemic slowed the construction process however our operations were deemed to be an essential service which allowed for construction during the pandemic.  We stayed focus on getting this done for the municipalities,” said Jimmy Winters, Senior Vice President of Recycling and Transfer Operations and Logistics.

The following are some details about the facility:

  • The Brookhaven Material Recovery Facility is the largest processer of curbside recyclables on Long Island.
  • The facility employs 35 people.
  • The recycling center has the capacity to process approx. 38 tons per hour.
  • The building itself is approx. 54,000 square feet.
  • The interior of the system has been completely rebuilt with a new recycling system. The new equipment is a mix of mechanical and optical separation.  The facility was also upgraded with a number of QA/QC improvements to ensure the production of high-quality materials to meet market requirements.
  • The investment was necessary to automate the sorting process and increase quality.
  • Winters Bros. also added a second baler and created redundancy to ensure consistent operations.
  • Recyclers continue to face significant obstacles. The three biggest challenges that we face are:
    • Inbound quality is still poor. Poor inbound quality is mostly due to “wishcycling” and lack of homeowner education about what is and what is not acceptable in the recycling bin.  The Town of Brookhaven continues to enhance its public education program.
    • A tight labor market.
    • Continued volatility of markets and depressed commodity values.
  • The construction of the recycling center was another challenge.
    • We just broke ground at the beginning of the year and very shortly the pandemic hit.
    • The pandemic resulted in a slightly longer construction cycle.
    • Ultimately, our project was deemed an “essential” construction project and we finished installation very close to schedule.
  • The new recycling center utilizes a variety of processing technology to sort, separate, segregate and clean residential recyclables that come from homes throughout the Town of Brookhaven and other parts of Long Island.
  • Material traveling through the system goes on a 650-foot journey where it is subject to mechanical, physical, automated, and optical sorting. The system uses articulating screens, electromagnet fields, eddy currents, optical sorters, and manual labor to separate and clean recyclables.  Once sorted, the various materials are baled and shipped to manufactures where the material is used as raw material to make new items for consumers.

“Today, Brookhaven has the most advanced recycling program on Long Island,” said Will Flower.  “Importantly, residents have been very receptive and have adapted to the changes that have occurred over the past two years as they continued to recycle.  While some people on Long Island are skeptical about recycling, I can guarantee that the material we receive is properly processed and recycled to be used again.”

Winters Bros. has invested $7.5 million in the Brookhaven recycling center because we see the environmental and economic benefits that recycling provides to the residents of Brookhaven and all of Long Island.