How recyclables are sorted

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How recyclables are sorted at the Materials Recovery Facility in Mackay?

The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is where household recyclables are transported to after they have been collected from your kerbside.

Once delivered to the MRF, they are sorted by hand and machinery to identify and separate all the recyclable items. After this process, the recyclable items are baled and transported to reprocessing plants.

Outlined below is the process of how recyclables are sorted at the Materials Recovery Facility in Mackay:

Where do recyclables go?Recycling Trucks

  • Recycling trucks collect approx 300 recycling bins for an optimum load.
  • The load is delivered to the Materials Recovery Facility where it is weighed to record recyclate recovery and monitor how well the community is recycling.


  • The recycling truck reverses up to the receiving hopper at the facility and deposits recyclate onto the receiving hopper conveyer.

First Conveyer and Paper Trommel

  • The storage hopper has a walking floor that feeds the recyclables onto the first conveyer and into the paper trommel.
  • The paper trommel is a large sieve that has a rotating barrel with large holes in which bottles and containers fall through and move into the next section to be sorted. The paper trommel traps 70% of paper and cardboard and it moves directly to the paper sorting line.

The Paper Sorting Line

  • At the paper sorting line workers remove the contaminants (items not wanted) from the paper stream. The paper and cardboard then drops into a baler and is compacted and automatically wired into a bale weighing over 800kg.

Glass Fines Trommel and Bounce Table

  • The other recyclate moves onto the Glass Fines Trommel, in which works the same as the paper trommel but has very small sieve holes to remove small pieces of broken glass.
  • The recyclate then goes onto the bounce table, which bounces rapidly and is designed to capture any remaining paper and separate it from other materials.
  • Light paper is transported over the bounce table and back to the paper sorting line.
  • The heavier recyclables (containers, bottles, cans) are transported along the conveyer to be hand sorted.

Magnet / Plastics / Glass Sorting Line Conveyer /Eddie Current

  • Steel cans and aerosols are lifted from the conveyer by a large magnet and released into the storage cage.
  • Plastics are hand sorted into numbers 1= (soft drink bottles) number 2= (2 litre milk bottles) and number 3-6= (mixed plastics)
  • Glass bottle and jars are also hand sorted and conveyed into large storage silos.
  • Aluminium cans aerosols are separated by an Eddie current machine.


  • The sorted recyclable materials (Steel, Plastics and Aluminium) are baled separately, ready for transport to the various recyclate manufacturers for reprocessing.

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