A case study detailing the success Reading’s Material Recycling Facility (MRF) is having with its automatically sorted plastics. 

Key points
  • Efficiencies made by using automated picking rather than manual picking
  • Plastics re-processors have praised the MRF for its PET and HDPE outputs, and the Waste Recycling Group (WRG) believe they have achieved highest prices from buyers due to this
  • Currently processes 25-30,000 tpa in an 8 hour shift. WRG will look to double output by running two-shifts


Entering full service in December 2008, the advanced Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Smallmead in Reading can process up to 58,000 tpa (based on two shifts) of fully co-mingled dry recyclables.

The MRF is a key element of a 25-year £610 million Private Finance Initiative contract awarded to Northamptonshire-based Waste Recycling Group (WRG) in October 2006 by the re3 Waste Partnership (re3). The latter consists of three unitary authorities (UAs): Reading Borough Council, Bracknell Forest Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council.

What makes the plant special is the outstanding quality of the plastic it produces while handling a large volume of material and not compromising on the quality of other material outputs.

These high standards are maintained even though feedstock is sourced from three different UAs.

This case study reveals some of the secrets of Smallmead’s success.

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  • WRAP-Case Study - Smallmead MRF.pdf

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