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The latest optical sorters for recycling are fast, acccurate and versatile

The latest optical sorters for recycling are fast, acccurate and versatile

Following is a quick rundown on the latest high-tech optical sorting systems for MRF applications, from seven of the industry's major manufacturers.


The MSS CIRRUS FiberMax optical sorter is designed specifically for either the removal of cardboard from newspaper or mixed paper streams, or to positively sort out targeted paper grades. A 1,000-feet-per-minute high-speed acceleration conveyor enables proper material distribution, which results in minimal collateral damage, allows for high throughput, and uses the latest generation NIR, colour and metal detection sensors in conjunction with a patented PrecisionFlow eject hood. 

CIRRUS FiberMax, and PlasticMax for plastics sorting, use patented MaxSelect sequential scanning technology that provides high combination of scan rate, number of utilized wavelengths and UV/VIS/NIR wavelength range.

For more on a recent CIRRUS system installation.


In 2020, TOMRA launched Autosort which combines the company's latest optical and artificial intelligence technology in one compact unit. Autosort includes Laser Object Detection (LOD) and Deep LAIser technologies that recognize objects that aren't seen by traditional NIR scanners. Residue objects that would typically go undetected, possibly ending up in a commodity stream, are now recognized and ejected.

Autosort also incorporates TOMRA SharpEye technology with an improved light source and sharper lenses to make imaging very clear, as well as GAIN, which combines the power of AI with NIR technology to gather and store data on prescribed sorting tasks to boost accuracy.

For more on TOMRA's AUTOSORT lineup.

Machinex MACH Hyspec 

Machinex' MACH Hyspec optical sorter uses a high-speed, short-wave infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral detection system to sort different types of material, from plastics and fibre to cartons and wood. This technology uses colour recognition and metal detection, and the new generation includes revised maintenance and access features which result in a 50 percent reduction in cleaning and maintenance time required, with the added benefit of improving aesthetics, ergonomics and general safety for operators. 

Key highlights of MACH Hyspec optical sorters include 3D volumetric detection depth up to 430 mm, MACH fast detection and analysis, and a static acquisition system with no moving parts for reliability and stability. 

For more on the award-winning Machinex MRF in Winnipeg.

NRT SpydIR with MAX-AI

The combination of NRT's patented optical technology with the artificial intelligence (AI) and vision system of BHS' Max-AI has created smarter optical sorters with new layers of advanced detection and high-speed scanning. NRT's SpydIR with Max-AI uses near infrared light (NIR) to identify materials by type in the same way a human does. 

NRT SpydIR detection can quickly and reliably identify fibre, PET and a range of paper, plastics and other materials, while Max-AI, using a camera and neural network-based technology can identify, for example, if PET is a thermoform tray or if HDPE is food grade.

For more on the latest from NRT.


SESOTEC's newly redesigned sorting system for recycling plastic bottles and trays, VARISORT+ is designed for high efficiency, even when working at material throughput of up to eight tons per hour. VARISORT+ detects and separates plastic types, colours and shapes, as well as metals and foreign objects, with accuracy and reliability. 

The VARISORT+ has been optimized for reliable system availability, quick cleaning and easy maintenance, and with a rejection accuracy of up to 99 percent it ensures that sorting fractions achieve the highest degrees of purity. VARISORT+ systems also allow for the combination of up to three sensors: near infrared, colour/shape, and metal, and it can also be equipped with innovative new FLASH technology for optimal colour recognition. 

For more on Sesotec's latest optical sorting tech.


REDWAVE 2i, based on machine learning and artificial intelligence, uses Sensor Fusion technology which combines near-infrared sensors, RGB cameras and all-metal detectors in one machine for improved sorting results for a variety of recyclable materials. This machine's adaptable and expandable design enables up to 4-channel sorting with just one machine and easy progression from a two-way to three-way system. 

Other key features include: real-time monitoring, easy maintenance, optimized energy consumption and 24/7 remote maintenance access. The 2i system is also now available with the "mate" control system, which provides artificially intelligent support, measuring material qualities, recording and evaluating information during production.

For more on the latest from REDWAVE.

Pellenc ST Mistral + Film

Pellenc ST's latest film sorting machine, Mistral+ Film Top Speed addresses one of the key requirements for LDPE recyclers - higher capacities. A standard optical sorter, without LDPE-specific features, can usually sort 1.5 tph input materials. According to Pellenc ST, the Mistral+ Film Top Speed is aimed at reaching capacities up to 4.5 tph.

The driver behind the capacity enhancement is the speed of the infeed conveyor. Pellenc says standard optical sorters are limited to a maximum 2.4 m/s with film, while this machine is driving its belt at 4.5 m/s, while maintaining its high level of sorting performance. 

See more on the latest from Pellenc ST.

Company info

2121 Rue Olivier
Plessisville, QC
CA, G6L 3G9


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300 Oceanside Drive
Nashville, TN
US, 37204


Phone number:

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1508 Elm Hill Pike
Nashville, TN
US, 37210


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2775 Pacific Drive
Norcross, GA
US, 30071


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Regener Straße 130
DE, 94513


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875 Embarcadero Drive
West Sacramento, CA
US, 95605


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1299 Schlumberger Drive
Fort Mill, SC
US, 29715


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360 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Norwalk, CT
US, 06854


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Why invest money in an intelligent MRF (4.0)?

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.


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