New solutions for recycling at TOMRA Test Center
Two-day event brings together industry experts, customers and media to examine ideas for the future and groundbreaking technologies for today.
Congress visitors also welcomed the opportunity to see two notable technical innovations in action at TOMRA's Test Center: the new AUTOSORT LASER has made it possible to separate thin, thick or opaque glass from Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), to help reduce landfill costs and create additional revenue through the recovery of saleable products; and delegates were given an exclusive preview of AUTOSORT BLACK, the first machine capable of sorting black plastic packaging materials, which will help meet ever-tightening sorting and recycling quotas. BLACK will be brought to market in early 2018.
New solutions for sorting glass and black plastic packaging from MSW
One of the two most significant technical innovations demonstrated in the Test Center, the AUTOSORT LASER, is a sensor-based sorting machine utilizing laser technology. Congress visitors were shown how LASER’s near-infrared (NIR) laser sorting technology ensures sorting stability and makes it possible to separate glass from transparent polymers, which are increasingly used in items such as syringes, lighters, and baby and cosmetic bottles.
The other significant technical innovation, the combined use of the AUTOSORT and AUTOSORT BLACK machines, has made it possible to recover valuable black polymers from packaging materials. Whereas sensor-based sorting technology based on NIR detection is unable to detect or differentiate between black plastics, the BLACK plastic sorter can sort differing polymers such as black PE, black PP, black PET, and styrene. To enable this process, the AUTOSORT machine first recovers the valuable black plastic materials, which are normally part of residue streams, to create a black single stream.
Another plastics recycling machine, the AUTOSORT FLAKE, was also demonstrated in the Test Center. By combining color detection and enhanced material information to sort by color and material at the same time, this has brought new standards of high-precision sorting to a market which increasingly demands high-grade outputs with rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) plastics. FLAKE, like LASER, deploys TOMRA’s patented FLYING BEAM technology combined with the FOURLINE technology, which has the highest resolution NIR (close to 1mm) available on the sorting market.
Increasing the profitability of metal sorting
Looking at metal sorting, demonstrations of the X-TRACT and COMBISENSE machines illustrated how combined sensor-based technologies make the sorting and subsequent sale of zorba (shredded nonferrous scrap metals) more profitable. By passing zorba through an X-Ray Transmission unit to separate aluminum from heavy metals, X-TRACT works with such high precision that it can achieve aluminum purities of 98-99%. From the remaining heavy metals, COMBISENSE then sorts out valuable fragments of copper, brass and grey metals.
In another Test Center demonstration, TOMRA explained its enhanced LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy) sorting technology. By employing a laser, which can monitor the entire width of the belt, this has the unique advantage of eliminating the complex and costly need to separate materials into single lanes. This enables the sorting and separation of different aluminum wrought alloys with unprecedentedly high levels of efficiency, achieving sorting accuracies of 99% purity (or greater) with high throughputs of three to seven tons per hour.
Service is equally important
To achieve sustainability aims, the circular economy will depend not only on ultra-efficient recycling machines, but also the businesses and people who produce and maintain them. This was the subject of a presentation by Peter Geisler, Service Director Recycling, titled ‘Minimizing downtimes, maximizing profit - it’s all about the service.’ Recognition of the importance of customer support is evident in TOMRA Care, a comprehensive package of services designed to ensure customers experience a tailored service that enables them to achieve maximum return on investment. TOMRA Care covers process consulting, system testing, financing, insurance, staff training, and upgrades.