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NRT claims black plastic sorting breakthrough

By 26/01/2017News

Sorting equipment manufacturer National Recovery Technologies (NRT) has unveiled its ColorPlus-R optical sorting unit, which it is claimed can remove opaque materials such as black plastic from a mixed load.

The Nashville, USA-based company says that the unit can sort material by colour using detection cameras capable of processing up to 50 million pixels per second and ‘in-flight’ sorting technology.

NRT's ColorPlus-R unit

NRT’s ColorPlus-R unit

In order to detect opaque materials, the ColorPlus-R combines ‘transmissive’ detection, which sees material placed between a light source and a detection camera, as well as ‘reflective’ detection involving a second LED light source above the material– allowing colour recognition of materials such as black plastics.

Black plastics in particular have been seen as a problematic material for recyclers as the majority of black plastic packaging is coloured using carbon black pigments which do not enable the pack to be sorted by existing optical sorting systems used widely in plastics recycling.


Other ColorPlus-R applications include the separation of white containers from other coloured opaque plastics, separating coloured inert objects such as glass, or removing browns from a news stream, the manufacturer says.

Matthias Erdmannsdoerfer, president of NRT said: “The real advantage to the ColorPlus-R is the ability now to recognise the colour of an opaque object with extreme confidence and in a fraction of a second. For example, black plastics pose a problem to our customers, particularly in Plastic Recycling Facilities where accuracy is ultimately defined by the parts per million.

NRT Transmissive and Reflective Graphic

“Black plastics absorb too much light for near infrared detection by polymer type, so with this new equipment we can effectively remove this type of contamination. Our team should be proud of yet another accomplishment that will pay dividends to our customers.”

The ColorPlus-R incorporates NRT’s new platform, launched in 2016 (see story).

The first ColorPlus-R will operate at Suez’s Altens East Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Aberdeen to remove OCC from mixed paper. Installation is underway for an expected Q2 startup.

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Source: Plastic