There has been increased focus on recycling in Sweden during recent years. This focus can be attributed to external environmental factors such as tougher legislation, but also to the potential gains for raw materials suppliers. Recycling centres are important components in the Swedish total recycling system. Recycling centres are manned facilities for waste collection where visitors can bring, sort and discard worn products as well as large-sized, hazardous, and electrical waste. The aim of this paper was to identify and describe the main flows and layout types at Swedish recycling centres. The aim was also to adapt and apply production theory for designing and managing recycling centre operations. More specifically, this means using lean production principles to help develop guidelines for recycling centre design and efficient control.Empirical data for this research was primarily collected through interviews and questionnaires among both visitors and employees at 16 Swedish recycling centres. Furthermore, adapted observation protocols have been used in order to explore visitor activities. There was also close collaboration with a local recycling centre company, which shared their layout experiences with the researchers in this project.The recycling centres studied had a variety of problems such as queues of visitors, overloading of material and improper sorting. The study shows that in order to decrease the problems, the recycling centres should be designed and managed according to lean production principles, i.e. through choosing more suitable layout choices with visible and linear flows, providing better visitor information, and providing suitable technical equipment. Improvements can be achieved through proper planning of the layout and control of the flow of vehicles, with the result of increased efficiency and capacity, shorter visits, and cleaner waste fractions. The benefits of a lean production mindset include increased visitor capacity, waste flexibility, improved sorting quality, shorter time for visits and improved working conditions.
2011. Vol. 31, no 6, 1121-1132 p.