Identification of near infrared (NIR) optical sorting good practice in the UK and mainland Europe case study

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Courtesy of Axion Group - Axion Consulting

Challenge:

  • Previous studies have shown that standards of quality and yield achieved by NIR optical sorting facilities, such as Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs), vary enormously across Europe
  • To study and share examples of good practice in order to improve recovery rates and quality of materials from NIR sorting facilities

Axion Solution:

  • Identified suitable operating sites that use NIR technology for detailed study
  • Collected and analysed production data held by site
  • Conducted performance testing trials at six sites across Europe
  • Assessed key factors that contributed to success of sites achieving good NIR sorting performance
  • Determined what constitutes good practice and wrote guidance documents for existing and potential recyclers of household plastic packaging waste

Conclusions:

  • Careful feed preparation to present a monolayer to the sensors is key to NIR sorter performance
  • Do not just accept manufacturer's default settings. Optimise them on real feed material
  • Measure feed and output product compositions regularly to quantify sorter separation efficiency

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