Plastics Recycling Update

Innovation isolates film on sort line

FiberandFilmSortingBiffaA new sortation system from Bulk Handling Systems automatically separates film products for recycling so they’re not later lost as residue in a fiber stream.

The combination of a FiberPure optical sorter from National Recovery Technologies (NRT) and an optional Nihot pneumatic extraction system allows materials recovery facilities (MRFs) to automatically remove films from the two-dimensional stream.

NRT and Nihot are both Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) companies.

Films frequently appear in household recycling streams whether programs accept them or not, and some MRFs use sorting personnel to try to capture some of the films that appear in incoming streams.

BHS’ new system “significantly lowers labor costs and maximizes the purity and recovery of both fiber and plastic film,” according to a company press release.

The optical sorter and air suction system operate on the 2-D plastic materials after they are separated from containers. The belt leading to the sorter uses an “air curtain” to stabilize material.

The sorter itself uses NRT’s technology to scan and eject items after they have left the end of the belt and are in mid-flight. That avoids the issue of having items scanned further up the belt and then shift positions before they get to the air ejectors.

NRT also recently redesigned the internal shape of the optical sorter to create better airflow for ejected materials. With the FiberPure system, that internal shape prevents ejected films from swirling around inside and helps carry them to the back of the sorter. Then the optional Nihot air extraction system can be used to suck them up for removal. The Nihot system is also able to separate the ejected fraction by density, creating purer film and fiber streams, according to BHS.

U.K.-based waste management company Biffa recently installed a FiberPure Optical Sorter with Nihot air extraction system in an existing MRF in Aldridge, U.K. Instead of targeting films, however, Biffa is using the system to remove roughly 3 tons per hour of fiber from its container line.

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