New Tomra Sorting Solution helps UK processors

The next stage of the Chinese Government’s crackdown on waste imports came into effect on 1st March 2018 with the introduction of new lower contamination limits on imported waste. Having already banned all imports of solid wastes, including unsorted mixed papers and post-consumer plastics, now any other materials such as paper, cardboard and plastics that exceed the new contamination limit of 0.5 per cent (previously 1.5 per cent) will be blocked. A marginally higher limit of 1 per cent has been set for non-ferrous metals (previously 5 per cent).

As the UK gets to grips with the far-reaching implications of these new limits, TOMRA Sorting has launched a unique laser-based solution that will enable UK processors to achieve higher final product purity levels than ever before. When used in combination with its AUTOSORT and FINDER systems, TOMRA Sorting’s new Laser Object Detection (LOD) system boosts sorting capabilities, enabling waste and scrap recycling operations to achieve purity levels that no other system currently available on the market can achieve. Final product purity is increased by as much as 4 per cent.

Featuring TOMRA laser technology that sorts based on the feed material’s spectral and spatial characteristics, the new LOD can detect material such as black plastic, rubber, glass, and other waste items that near infrared technology (NIR) is incapable of identifying.

The LOD system is modular in design, offering the flexibility to incorporate it into existing TOMRA sorting equipment, or to be used as a standalone sorting stage. Mechanically mounted to a platform, the system has been designed for simple and fast installation and programming into existing plants. Unlike other systems, this arrangement allows for both large and small feed material to pass under the laser without blockage.

Brian Gist, TOMRA Sorting’s Managing Director for the UK and Nordic Region, comments: “At TOMRA Sorting, we remain committed to adapting our technology to meet continually evolving specifications in the market and our new LOD system is a great example of this. By combining our new LOD technology with our powerful AUTOSORT and FINDER systems, our UK customers can now take advantage of a low energy, cost-effective solution that will ensure they can meet both the new lower contamination limits introduced by the Chinese Government for paper, Zorba and Zurik, and the increasingly challenging purity requirements of other end customers here in the UK and overseas.

“There is, understandably, a lot of fear and uncertainty about what the future holds for UK processors in light of the ever-tightening Chinese final product purity requirements. China is a key market for the UK, taking around 1.1 million tonnes of mixed paper per annum, so processors have no option but to reprocess their material to upgrade its purity or identify other end markets. In a matter of months, processors have seen mixed paper prices drop from £70 per tonne down to as low as zero. If processors can’t meet the purity requirements set by the Chinese Government, then they will have to trade at zero or, potentially, have to pay around £120-£140 per tonne for the material to be landfilled.

“The Chinese Government has threatened to reject all material that fails to meet the new contamination limits and we know that this is not an empty threat. We were recently approached by a company when a number of its containers of paper were returned to the UK from China having failed to meet the requirements. Fortunately, this particular company was able to secure investment to upgrade their plant and, consequently, following the installation of TOMRA equipment, will be able to achieve the required purity levels. This is just one example that demonstrates the grave implications for processors who can’t achieve the new purity standards set by China.”

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