The issue at hand: plastic
A world without plastics would be inconceivable today. Plastic products have become part of our everyday life; packaging made from plastic is everywhere and the inevitable consequence is a growing mountain of plastic waste. The bad image of plastic waste – extensively covered by the media – is due to its polluting effect on our environment and its limited recyclability. Untreated plastic waste causes massive environmental damage worldwide, primarily in countries where no sustainable waste treatment systems have been established. Think of the pictures and reports about plastic islands floating in the oceans.
For many years, the EU was able to transfer its plastic waste issue to the Far East, but in early 2018, China put an end to waste imports from EU member states, the USA and Japan. Up to 87% of all EU waste was formerly treated and recycled in China. China’s own environmental problems have now prompted the government to put a stop to garbage imports from industrial countries. The consequence is growing concern throughout Europe about how it will now cope with the massive plastic waste problem that was previously exported.
Most plastic waste is used as an alternative fuel in incineration plants, but this use does not by far exhaust the potential that packaging waste has to offer as a secondary raw material. While the waste volume may be reduced by incineration, CO2 emissions stay the same. Another consequence is the creation of a market for single-use plastics.
EU governments are introducing measures to cut down on plastic packaging – especially in the food sector, but there is also a call to technology suppliers to develop concepts that will bring waste volumes under control. If waste is to be reused to produce new, high-quality plastics, the recyclates must be as pure as possible, and for this purpose, concepts that do not require extensive investment in the construction of new plant and systems are vital, since these are also interesting for those markets where manual sorting is still the predominating method.
CLARITY multiway for sorting light packaging waste
This challenge has been taken up with great confidence in Austria, not least because of the established sensor-based solutions available for the precise separation of plastics by types. In addition to sorting systems that separate one recyclable material from the material flow, Binder+Co has developed its compact sorting plant CLARITY multiway. With CLARITY multiway, one single machine can produce five pure products (fractions) of high quality. The sensor-based sorting system is a unique solution for sorting packaging waste such as PET, HDPE, PP, beverage cartons, paper and cardboard.
The patented sorting system CLARITY multiway is compact and space-saving, which makes it particularly appealing for markets where investments for waste treatment systems are still small. The acquisition costs of substructure and conveyor system are low. Sensor-based sorting produces product qualities that can be sold for further processing. The areas of application for CLARITY multiway are packaging waste from household and commercial waste, 3D fractions such as bottles, beverage packaging, canisters and plastic containers and 2D fractions such as film, paper and cardboard.
Here’s how the CLARITY sorting system for light packaging works.
Light waste packaging materials like PET, PE, PP or beverage packaging as well as paper and paperboard differ in their molecular composition and can be identified by spectral information. Specially developed NIR sensors are used for this purpose using this effect by analysing the reflected light.
CLARITY multiway is fed with the singulated material. The material flow passes on a perforated conveyor belt to the lighting and detection unit. The reflected light from the feed material is absorbed by highly sensitive cameras and analysed by the computing system. The sorting valves are arranged under the upper run of the conveyor belt. These separate the various materials at the right time and place them in the appropriate ejection hood using a precisely guided compressed air jet. The high-capacity computer system recognizes different types of plastics as well as paper and cardboard or composites, such as beverage packaging.
CLARITY multiway is extremely flexible in its controls and sorting recipes selection; the individual design of CLARITY multiway is tailored to customer requirements. Up to six final products /fractions can be recovered in a single processing step by this means. The system can be equipped with the number of discharge outlets the customer requires. CLARITY multiway can also be equipped with additional suction and dedusting systems and a perforator for stabilising the feed material.
At Binder+Co we see the development of innovative and economically sensible concepts as our mission to manage the amount of waste and especially to leave our children a livable planet.