A few years back, we made a strategic decision to begin investing heavily in recycling for the express purpose of diverting re-usable resources from the waste stream. Our new and improved Material Recovery Facility or Mr. Murph as we call him uses state of the art processing equipment to separate two and three dimensional recyclables by size, allowing residents to mix recyclables placed in our Mr. Murph recycling container.

Our recycling program works in tandem with our waste to energy landfill, at American Environmental Landfill. Residue material generated from our Mr. Murph drop-off sites that cannot be recycled is hauled to the landfill where we are generating enough electricity to power over 4800 homes across Green Country.

A New Era in Citywide Recycling
We installed our new Mr. Murph to improve diversion rates and productivity for the new wave of recyclables from our recycling contract with the City of Tulsa. The new MRF replaces an almost entirely manual process with screens, magnets, optical sorters, air classifiers and quality control inspection points to dramatically improve our sustainability efforts.

We spent approximately one year in design planning and six months in the actual installation process of Mr. Murph, which included numerous site and design revisions. The prep time in planning paid off for us, as we were able to implement design features that added significant efficiencies to the facility. A good example is the redundant functions we built in to the MRF to increase uptime in case of any technical delay or malfunction.

The efficiency gained by our automated equipment and the ability to now pull previously discarded recyclables from the waste stream greatly reduces the impact of trash on the environment and decreases the use of natural resources in the manufacturing process of new products.

Since going to our fully automated system, our material recovery rates from single stream recyclables delivered to our MRF are now as high as 95% of the recyclables processed. Prior to automation, our recovery rates were 20-30%. The City of Tulsa now has a 22% diversion of recyclables from the waste stream, which represents a dramatic shift in Tulsa’s previous trash disposal efficiency.

In addition to our city-wide residential recycling, we have also reached out into communities across Tulsa, partnering with local municipalities, civic organizations, schools and churches to bring a convenient and easy approach to recycling with full service Mr. Murph mini drop-off sites. American Waste Control now has over a 100 Mr. Murph bins throughout the Tulsa metro market, providing no cost recycling options to Tulsa residents who can now place their recyclables into one container with no sorting needed.

Harnessing the Power
Although we aim to reclaim as much of the recyclable material as possible from the waste stream, we know a small percentage of it cannot be recycled. With this in mind, we have implemented an innovative approach for using non-recyclable trash residue at our landfill to produce renewable energy and power homes.

We now have a process to capture methane gas from decomposing trash through a series of strategically drilled wells. We are collecting the gas and then converting it via three generators into electricity to power over 4800 homes in Pawhuska and 38 other small Oklahoma communities.

It’s our way of squeezing every bit of use out of the disposal process—creating new sources of renewable energy—and providing significant benefits for the community. Not only is our system generating power, but it’s also offsetting fossil fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gas to create a huge environmental plus for Tulsa.

Finding a way to harness a growing percentage of our city’s waste has always been our goal and now it’s a reality. Over the coming years, we will continue to expand our emphasis on renewable energy and help our city’s efforts to create energy sustainability within our back yard.
We believe our recycling facility to be the ideal partner with our waste to energy technology: Our innovation is reducing waste and providing a new source of power across Green Country. We’re seeing a terrific return on our investment, and it’s measured in enriched lives. More recyclables, more jobs, reduced landfills, less pollution—and it’s just the beginning.

Our quality of life is improving as a community. And, to us, there’s no better result than that.