Material Recovery Facility (MAREFA)

Published: 11 May 2021
Last edited: 11 May 2021

A Material Recovery Facility (MAREFA) is a space that receives, sorts, processes and stores recyclable materials to be shipped and marketed to end-users. MAREFA accepts materials, whether source separated or mixed, and segregates, processes and stores them for later use as raw materials for remanufacturing and reprocessing. The main function of the MAREFA is to maximize resource recovery while producing materials that will generate the highest possible revenues in the market. MAREFA will also function to process wastes into a feedstock for biological conversion or into a fuel source for the production of energy. MAREFA serves as an intermediate processing step between the collection of recyclable materials from waste generators and the sale of recyclable materials to markets for use in making new products. There are basically four components of MAREFA: sorting, processing, storage, and load-out. MAREFA is privately owned and operated by COBWAMM.



Collection of baseline and monitoring data and knowledge
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

  • Increased human consumption and production as a result of lifestyle changes 
  • Increasing volume and variety of items to be recovered from the markets up the value chain in recycling and manufacturing.
  • Increased demand versus supply of 'recoverables' to the job market
  • Population growth as a result of rapid urbanization

Lessons learned

  • Importance of understanding demand versus supply on the waste management value chain is important
  • The effectiveness of the facility is dependant on the quality of human resources and handling tools inside the facility.
  • Awareness of generators on the importance of sorting at source is critical. 
  • Plastic has adverse effects on the environment thus requiring recovery but it doesn't always make business sense (better to sort at source).
  • Advice to anyone wishing to establish MAREFA: Let it be market-driven!