TOMRA Sorting Recycling has published an e-book examining the role that recycling can play in providing solutions to the world's worsening resource crisis. It explores the technical feasibility and progress made toward 100% recyclability of plastics and highlights the opportunities of using high-quality recycled plastics for manufacturers of plastic products and packaging.
The e-book points out that the consumers' concerns about waste bring opportunities for brands to demonstrate corporate social responsibility and build customer loyalty to benefit their business results.
The problem of plastic waste has reached a critical point, with the majority still being landfilled or dumped in the environment and ocean, with only a small percentage being recycled. Regulators and consumers alike see the need for change. New environmental targets and regulations across the world are putting pressure on nations to improve their recycling rates. This will encourage investment and innovation in recycling, but more can be done now with the technologies that already exist.
TOMRA's e-book explains how the significant progress in plastics recycling technologies, even for PET products, makes using 100% recycled plastics not only technically possible, but also economically worthwhile. The publication - titled "The Viability of Using 100% Recycled Plastics" - is available online at https://hubs.ly/H0gYzDN0 and downloadable free-of-charge.
PET products can be made of high-quality 100% recycled plastics
TOMRA's e-book begins by busting the misconception that PET packaging and products other than bottles can only be downcycled into inferior-quality products. In fact, PET bottle recycling has progressed immensely. It is possible to manufacture other PET products, PET trays in particular, from 100% recycled materials, which makes sense environmentally and commercially.
Technological progress toward 100% recyclability continues
The e-book highlights the progress being made toward 100% recyclability with technologies such as the SHARP EYE and Laser Object Detection (LOD) systems recently introduced by TOMRA.
SHARP EYE uses the best sensor technology on the market, TOMRA's FLYING BEAM® technology, to distinguish the small chemical differences between PET trays and bottles, so they can be separated for equivalent-product recycling. Combined with TOMRA's AUTOSORT machine, the SHARP EYE breakthrough technology makes it possible to seamlessly separate even single-layer PET trays from PET bottles.
Laser Object Detection is able to detect material that near infra-red (NIR) technology is incapable of identifying, enabling recycling systems to remove impurities and decontamination efficiently. As a result, it is technically possible and economically advantageous to produce goods from 100% recycled materials. Used in combination with TOMRA's AUTOSORT and FINDER machines, LOD enables waste and scrap recycling operations to reach final product purity levels not previously attainable.
Addressing the resource crisis
Tom Eng, Senior Vice President and Head of TOMRA Sorting Recycling, commented: "Recycling is part of the solution to the world's worsening resource crisis. TOMRA's e-book highlights the environmental and economic importance of sorting technologies for the significant role they can play in improving recycling rates. To complement this, product designers and manufacturers are now beginning to think more carefully about their products' end-of-life recyclability. Consumers now think about, and our natural environment urgently needs, this. It is together that we can really make a difference."
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.