Great Northern Fibers retrofits fiber sorting line
Photo courtesy of Van Dyk Recycling Solutions

Great Northern Fibers retrofits fiber sorting line

The retrofit has improved OCC and news recovery.

February 23, 2021

Great Northern Fibers LCC, West Babylon, New York, has upgraded its fiber sorting line, which alternately processes commercial fiber and residential dual-stream news from Long Island communities. The incoming material contains a great deal of old corrugated containers (OCC), and the company’s existing OCC screen removes large pieces of this material. However, much of the small OCC was making its way into the paper stream, ending up either in residue or in the mixed paper grade.

To upgrade the system and recover more valuable fiber, Great Northern selected Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, Norwalk, Connecticut. The company completed the installation in late 2020.

Van Dyk proposed a 2,800-millimeter (or slightly more than 9-feet) wide optical sorter to remove small cardboard from the unders of the OCC screen. The optical sorter shoots positively on OCC, ejecting brown fiber from the remaining news stream. Van Dyk says the results are twofold: By removing brown grades from the paper, the news grade is now clean enough to sell as news, while the brown material captured by the optical sorter is blended into the OCC and baled.

The optical sorter is outfitted with a Deft Air wind tunnel on its acceleration belt to stabilize paper and prevent floating. When paper lies still, the optical sorter can increase the accuracy of its picks and also can process more material at a higher speed.

Photo courtesy of Van Dyk Recycling Solutions

Great Northern Fibers General Manager Joe Fiorillo says the facility’s OCC tonnage has dramatically increased, maximizing the company’s advantage on high OCC prices. “The improved quality of the product produced has enabled us to get more money for the product and also to find constant markets for it,” he adds.

In light of the optical sorter’s efficiency, Great Northern has been able to eliminate six hand-sorters while also increasing its tonnage processed per hour. “We were running with a shift and a half,” Fiorillo says. “Now we can produce the same overall tonnage with just one shift and fewer people.”

All residue is now centralized to one location, where a reversible belt feeds two compactors, making the system fully automatic. Storage bunkers replaced the original push-through bunkers to eliminate double handling of the material, according to Van Dyk. All materials are baled in a Bollegraaf HBC 120s baler, also supplied by Van Dyk.

Regarding the installation, Fiorillo says it was “on point, and the Van Dyk install team was very professional.” He adds, “What has impressed me the most about Van Dyk over the years is that every piece of machinery fits perfectly and is bolted together. Van Dyk measures, and then remeasures, to make sure everything fits.”

He also acknowledges the “impeccable” service he receives. “When we call for assistance, we get an immediate response,” Fiorillo says. “Overnight delivery on parts is very reliable and, in an emergency, they will even deliver same-day via courier. The fact that they keep all parts in stock is an amazing asset for their customers.”

Van Dyk can be contacted at 203-967-1100 or at  to request a tour of the Great Northern facility or for more information.