Quality & Quantity: Improved Purity Facilitates International Recycling

By Sebastian Ebers

Waste and recycling operators are well used to adapting their business models in order to accommodate the evershifting international trade policies, but the recent enforcement from China of new contamination limits on recycled materials has shaken the industry to the core, heralding a new era of constraints, pushing companies to the limit of their operating capacity and technological ability. If they are to weather the storm, forward-thinking businesses need to adjust, invest or suffer the worst consequences. However, it is possible to view this crackdown on waste imports as more of an opportunity than a threat, with the outcome of increasing the quality of recycled materials sent to China and to enhance subsequent revenue generation.

productAddressing quality limits from China Having already banned all imports of solid wastes, including unsorted mixed papers and post-consumer plastics, as of 1 March 2018, other materials such as paper, cardboard and plastics are only accepted for processing in China with a new contamination limit of 0.5 per cent, a limit of one per cent has been set for non-ferrous metals.

The importance of the Chinese market in global recycling has meant that many European reprocessors have had to take a ‘do or die’ approach – comply with the new purity limits or pay punitive fees for local landfill. With fewer landfill costs imposed in the Middle East, recycling businesses can capitalise on the latest technology to seize the momentum in exports to China.

Improving quality

Keeping the China market open as a profitable channel for recycled materials is vital to the existence of many reprocessors in Europe and the Middle East, but the challenge is to produce higher purity products in order to keep the channel open.

TOMRA Sorting Recycling is assisting companies worldwide to meet this challenge by increasing the quality of their recycled materials, through the application of technologies that enable reprocessors to achieve higher final product purities than ever before. The latest sorting technology from TOMRA can help companies to meet Chinese purity requirements for all types of materials including recycled paper, Zorba and Zurik.

TOMRA supports its customers to maximise their operations across many applications from mixed municipal waste, paper and plastics to the recovery of metals from car shredding. Always at the forefront of sorting technology, TOMRA systems recognise the very smallest of input particles.

An exceptional family of sorting machines

Reducing landfill costs and creating additional revenue through the recovery of saleable products, TOMRA Sorting Recycling’s flagship product AUTOSORT is a multifunctional system that combines the detection of colour and enhanced material information to produce reliable fractions of the highest purity grade. With its innovative, patented FLYING BEAM® technology, AUTOSORT offers continuous calibration for substantially less downtime and greater output consistency. The flexible, low-energy universal modular system can easily be integrated into recycling plants for the sorting of single stream, packaging, paper and household waste.

Advances in AUTOSORT technology have seen the addition of AUTOSORT LASER AND AUTOSORT FLAKE to the family. AUTOSORT LASER separates thin, thick or opaque glass from municipal solid waste (MSW) with its near-infrared (NIR) laser sorting technology.

The AUTOSORT FLAKE sorts by colour and material at the same time. Like LASER, FLAKE has the highest resolution NIR (close to 1mm) available, bringing new standards of high-precision sorting to a market which increasingly demands highgrade outputs with rPET plastics. The most recent development by TOMRA is the Laser Object Detection (LOD) system which boosts sorting capabilities to enable waste and scrap recycling operations to achieve maximum purities.

The new LOD detects black plastic, rubber, glass and other waste items that near infrared technology (NIR) cannot identify. It enables new ways of sorting to improve the final qualities of different material streams like paper, Zorba and Zurik. Modular in design, the low energy, cost-effective LOD solution can be incorporated into existing TOMRA AUTOSORT equipment or be used as a standalone sorting stage.

Global expertise, local focus

TOMRA Sorting Recycling understands the worldwide challenges the modern recycling industry has to face and develops new technologies to provide the very best sorting solution for every application. TOMRA customers have access to several global Test Centres prior to any purchase and with an extensive support structure, assisting customers remotely, or at their location.

Since developing the world’s first highcapacity near infrared (NIR) sensor for waste sorting applications, TOMRA remains an industry pioneer, dedicated to extracting high purity fractions to maximise yield and profits. Around 5,000 cutting-edge sorting systems have been installed in 50 countries worldwide, making TOMRA a trusted partner in global waste management. With the regional headquarters for Middle East and Africa in Dubai for more than 6 years, TOMRA Sorting Recycling has developed a homegrown team of local specialists to offer its global expertise to the Middle East waste and recycling market.

TOMRA innovation at IFAT

From 14 – 18 May 2018, TOMRA Sorting Recycling will be exhibiting a range of innovative equipment at the world’s leading trade fair for environmental technologies in Munich Germany. Visit the TOMRA booth for more information – Hall B6, Stand 339/438.

For more information on TOMRA Sorting Recycling visit www.tomra. com/recycling or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook

The author is Sales Engineer – Middle East at Tomra Sorting DMCC