Recycled Materials Journey Through Factories and Collecting Facilities

Recycled Materials Journey Through Factories and Collecting Facilities

Recycled and reused materials continue to grow as a more attractive alternative in the construction field. They are at most times a coveted sustainable substitute to conventional building materials, offering a financially resourceful solution when appropriately sourced and implemented. Aside from saving up on raw material costs, establishing recycling facilities or factories might present a good opportunity to generate jobs within a local setting (collecting, handling). The recycling process might also be used as a gateway to lower energy consumption, with some plants eventually generating their own power through specific material transformation techniques (Heat generated power). 

Recycled Materials Journey Through Factories and Collecting Facilities  - More Images+ 6

The collecting, processing and reprocessing cycles would however require a well-designed, and properly conceived healthy building. It is important to facilitate the meticulous and demanding processes in a safe environment. For what is the use of promoting sustainable construction means and materials if the factory that produces them is even more harmful to the workers' health and damaging to the environment?

© Theo Peekstok

There are in fact different types of Recycling facilities that could be set up for waste collection and storage or be used to sort the materials into different types for redistribution. Other factories are also charged to transform the waste through biological processes to create fertilizer / soil conditioners, or through other varied means into raw materials that would then be used to generate new building elements among other things. Some can even be power plants, using heat to treat non-recyclable materials and generate power.

Collection and Transfer Stations

These facilities require good zoning and spatial segmentation to separate various areas meant for different types of material, making sure they do not get mixed. A proper vehicular and materials flow must also be accounted for in the design since elements from the transfer station are transported to other types of facilities for further processing.

Urban Solid Waste Collection Central / Vaillo + Irigaray

Courtesy of Vaillo + Irigaray

The contorted volumetry flakes wrapped with the same material, same construction system, -facades and deck- large format sheets (2.5mx1.5m) are composed of leaf-lacquered aluminum can recycling, minimum thickness.

Sunset Park Material Recovery Facility / Selldorf Architects

© Nikolas Koenig

The facility makes a major environmental contribution by delivering recyclables by barge - a strategy which minimizes the distance collection trucks must travel and eliminates 240,000 miles of annual vehicle travel from roadways. Recycled materials are used throughout: site fill is made from a composite of recycled glass, asphalt, and rock reclaimed from the Second Avenue subway construction; buildings are made from recycled steel; and plazas are finished with recycled glass.

Processing facilities

These facilities also take care of separating mixed recyclables into hazardous material, non-targeted material, non-recyclable waste as well as initial processing of materials meant for reprocessing or treatment. Area division and good hybrid ventilation are also key design elements at this stage.

Reprocessing facilities

The reprocessing factories transform the collected recyclable materials into something new. The design should, therefore, be able to accommodate the required machinery lines that would either transform the materials directly into new products or back into a raw material which can then be used by manufacturers. This includes more artificial cooling systems.

Milieustraat Recycling Center / Groosman

© Theo Peekstok

The structure of the existing halls and the paving material have been completely reused. Through IFD (Industrial, Flexible and Detachable) construction, the buildings will be reusable in the future.

Metal Recycling Plant / dekleva gregoric architects

© Miran Kambič

We clearly divided the generic base, flexible for multiple-use and the very specific, non-flexible, therefore ephemeral and recycle friendly by its activity. In these terms the huge concrete plateau with a definition wall and attached concrete service building define the core of the current production, however they easily allow for change of program within the industrial zone.

Smestad Recycling Center / Longva arkitekter

© Ivan Brodey

The project has high environmental ambitions. The building is constructed from low impact materials Facades are of concrete, brick, laminated wood and expanded metal of weathering steel. The entire roof is planted with sedum. The climatized part of the building achieves an EU energy label A (yellow).

Treatment facilities

This process decreases the quantity of input material either by using heat or biological processes. The result can be power, fertilizers etc. In this case, safety is an essential consideration while working on the design.

Bozen Waste to Energy Plant / Cl & aa Architects

© Alessandra Chemollo

Cl & aa intended to reduce the visual impact of an industrial plant designing a cohesive building, whose lines and colors can evoke the surrounding skyline, in balance between natural and artificial that means landscape in its better meaning.

Note that different facilities classifications (according to functions and accepted materials) and standard requirements are available as benchmarks to ensure a safe environment. It is important to keep in mind that the procedures can be toxic and harmful. An unmitigated recycling process might allow high levels of pollutants to be released into the atmosphere in addition to an unnecessary increase in energy consumption.

Courtesy of Vaillo + Irigaray

Therefore, having a good, standard abiding design from the very start is imperative to create a high-performance factory building. This also means engaging all members of the team including the architect, MEP engineers, machines specialists, environmental engineers and even local community members. Specific layouts and special organizations should be adapted to the required tasks. Areas containment and well-devised ventilation are also necessary items to account for.

Factories and handling facilities can even be the first promoters for recycled construction material use since some of them are built from the same elements they produce or process for re-use; all while remaining aesthetically pleasing. The visual impact of the factories within their surrounding should also be considered in the design. 

© Nikolas Koenig

Note: The quoted texts are excerpts from the archived descriptions of each project, previously sent by the architects. Find more reference projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Recycled Materials. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.

About this author
Cite: Hana Abdel. "Recycled Materials Journey Through Factories and Collecting Facilities " 15 Jul 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

© Theo Peekstok


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