A case study detailing the halving of material entering the residual waste stream at Milton Keynes Materials Recovery Facility (MRF).

Key points
  • Material entering residual stream has almost halved
  • Throughput down from 10 – 12% to 6.5%
  • Almost 100% of News and PAMs are recovered in the MRF


The Milton Keynes facility recovers materials using a positive sorting methodology. In other words, automated and manual picking processes identify and extract target materials such as paper, cardboard, PET and HDPE plastic bottles, and metal containers (i.e. steel and aluminium) from the lines while allowing unwanted items to continue.

The materials which remain at the end of the process are disposed of as a residuals stream. To maintain a 100% landfill diversion rate, the MRF compacts, bales up and delivers these residuals – at a cost of around £70/tonne - to an energy from waste (EfW) plant. While positive sorting produces excellent quality outputs, until recently, MKC and Community Waste were not sure how much saleable material was ending up in the residuals line.

Following attendance at a workshop on effective MRF management, organised by WRAP, the MRF operators decided to assess the severity of the problem and take steps to tackle it.

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  • WRAP-casestudy-MiltonKeynes-MRF.pdf

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