Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

 CTBUH Researchers Tour MBL Recycling Plant

June 24, 2013

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CHICAGO - The CTBUH research team made a visit to MBL Recycling to gather more information for the Life Cycle Assessment of Tall Building Structural Systems research project, funded by ArcelorMittal. The CTBUH research team was met by Rob and Wendy Gold, principal owners of the company. This meeting took place in order to educate the researchers about the recycling process. MBL Recycling has an automated processing plant that has allowed for a major breakthrough in increasing the state of Illinois’ recycling rate. Specific information, such as the amount of electricity used at such a plant, will be used for selected case studies, which will be included in a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA).
The process in the recycling plant begins with the potentially recycled material being brought in through a garage. The scrap is then placed on a conveyor belt with a crane. It then slowly goes down a line and is sorted manually by about 10 to 16 laborers. Anything that is not recycled passes through and is processed as outbound garbage. Smaller material is placed on another belt, where a magnet collects small scraps of steel that cannot be picked up by laborers. Anything that is recyclable and not taken by the magnet is sorted by laborers down the line on a separate belt.
Larger materials being sorted on conveyor belt to the right. Smaller materials that passed through the steel magnet are being sorted on the left.
After the CTBUH researchers described the project in detail, MBL officials depicted the process in which all demolished material comes in unsorted. The officials also mentioned that MBL brings in and processes an average of 400 tons (363 metric tons) of demolished material per day. Of that, 25% of their material goes to the compactor and landfill.
At the plant, the CTBUH researchers were also able to see the actual process that the material went through when being sorted at the recycling plant and were given information on costs related to running the machinery along with transporting materials in and out of the plant.

After giving a tour of the plant, the Golds shared the recycling plant’s perspective on various materials’ life cycles, along with details on the recycling process, which together will afford a greater perspective for the LCA study. This will ultimately result in greater accuracy of study results.
CTBUH meets MBL Recycling in Palatine. (l to r): Dr. Payam Bahrami, Wendy Gold, Rob Gold, Dr. Dario Trabucco, Afshin Zahraee, Meysam Tabibzadeh