TOMRA debuts new SHARP EYE technology at NPE 2018
New sorting technology separates PET bottles from single-layer PET trays
At NPE 2018, the Plastics Show, held in Orlando, May 7-8, TOMRA Sorting Recycling introduced new TOMRA SHARP EYE technology, which makes it possible to separate single-layer PET trays from PET bottles. This enhances the previous capability of TOMRA's AUTOSORT machine to separate multilayer trays. This breakthrough is commercially significant because small but critical differences in the chemical properties of PET food trays and PET bottles mean that they must be separated for equivalent-product recycling. Additionally, artificial intelligence embedded in TOMRA systems also enables seamless analysis of sorted products, making the future plants even smarter.
Valerio Sama, TOMRA Sorting Recycling Product Manager, commented: "We expect our new TOMRA SHARP EYE technology to be welcomed by collection-and-sorting plants and by PET regeneration centers. Demand for this is likely to grow, because the widening international adoption of on-the-go lifestyles is increasing the use of plastic drink bottles and plastic trays used for fruit, vegetables and other foods."
The key to this breakthrough is an enhancement of TOMRA's FLYING BEAM technology, which was already the best sensor technology on the market. As the first near-infrared (NIR) scan system with point-scanning (eliminating the need for external lamps), this focuses only on the area of the conveyor belt being scanned. Allowing a wide range of calibration possibilities, this can distinguish even the finest molecular differences in materials flowing down the recycling line. Combined with TOMRA SHARP EYE technology that introduces a larger lens for higher light intensity, it is possible to detect even the most difficult-to-distinguish properties.
"TOMRA SHARP EYE technology allows our customers to achieve higher and more consistent quality for new plastic food-grade packaging," says Carlos Manchado Atienza, TOMRA Sorting Recycling Regional Director Americas. "Thanks to our new technology, we can recognize molecular properties and differentiate between monolayer and multilayer trays from bottles. It is a definitive step to Recover, Recycle and Reuse."
The step-by-step process, which concludes with the separation of single-layer PET trays and PET bottles, is seamless and flexible. During the preparation for sorting mixed plastics into different polymers, packaging material collected or presorted from single stream and/or mixed waste processing feed is initially sent through a mechanical treatment process to reduce voluminous materials, primarily soft items like plastic, film and non-plastic products. To separate mixed PET into different polymers, AUTOSORT functions as a combined system, detecting material and color in combination with grain size. Even with mixed material input, this process achieves an impressive sorting efficiency of 95 percent or greater.
Every minute, more than one million plastic bottles are bought around the world and within the next five years, this number is expected to increase by 20 percent. In response, regulations are tightening and Plastics Recyclers are initiating recycling guidelines for PET trays. This will encourage separate sorting streams to enable PET tray recycling and to develop markets for this packaging product.
A TOMRA AUTOSORT machine with the new TOMRA SHARP EYE technology is available for demonstrations by appointment at the company's Test Centers around the world.