Testing is believing – TOMRA celebrates opening a new flake sorting Test Centre in Italy

On 22 September 2021, TOMRA Recycling officially opened its new flake sorting Test Centre, where the company will develop new applications and solutions in the fields of PO and PET flake sorting, while simultaneously expanding its service offering.

Under the theme of “Testing is believing,” TOMRA representatives welcomed approximately 100 participants to its exclusive opening event and guided tour of the new flake sorting facility, located next to its office in Parma, Italy. The inspiring afternoon was filled with informative presentations and demos highlighting the company’s long-term plastics strategy, the purpose of the new facility and the numerous benefits it offers customers.

Fabrizio Radice, VP and Head of Global Sales and Marketing at TOMRA Recycling, opened the exclusive event and explained the rationale behind TOMRA’s investment in the new Test Centre. “We have witnessed increasing demand for flake sorting tests and a strong market push for high-quality recycled plastics,” Radice told the participants. “This requires the purest material fractions across all plastics applications, and the respective technologies and solutions need to be identified, developed and optimised. This will happen in our new facility, while closely collaborating with our customers and partners.”

In fact, customer collaboration is at the core of the new facility. Customers from around the world can now ship their plastic flakes to Parma. The materials are processed by TOMRA’s flake sorting machines and, based on the test analysis and results, TOMRA will recommend the most suitable machine, process and sensor configuration for each customer’s bespoke sorting requirements and goals. Customers are provided with an entire business case tailored to their needs before making an investment.

TOMRA’s customers have been benefitting for decades from this approach that has been offered globally via TOMRA’s test centres in Germany, the United States, Japan, Korea and China. They can now take advantage of extended testing capacities, shorter lead times and greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling tests. In addition, the centre’s location is proving to be particularly convenient. Situated in Parma, at the heart of one of Europe’s most important industrial and production regions, it can be easily reached via the international airports of Milan, Bologna, Verona and Bergamo.

In the second part of his presentation, Radice detailed why TOMRA is a ‘One Stop Shop Solution.’  First, TOMRA offers a vast portfolio of sensor-based sorters for various applications with AUTOSORT® and its application-specific complementary products at its core. In the plastics segment, AUTOSORT offers technologies for both presorting and flake sorting that work in unison with each other and allow greater operational and financial benefits. Second, over and above the technology, customers and partners benefit from TOMRA’s indepth application knowledge, invaluable consultancy expertise and ongoing service support. The alignment of machines combined with vast expertise and a one-stop service results in optimum plant performance.

Following Radice, Alberto Piovesan, Segment Manager Plastics EMEA & Americas, presented TOMRA’s flake sorting strategy and position in the plastics segment. The audience learned that the company aims to accelerate and shape the development of the sector through its vast application and industry expertise, its consultation and the most advanced technologies.

The new Test Centre will play a crucial role in doing so, as Piovesan highlighted. “In just 18 months, we have established a facility where new ideas and innovations will be developed to best respond to current market trends. More importantly, we are working on solutions that are indispensable for any sorting and recycling plant aiming to successfully upgrade plastics.”

Strong emphasis was also put on the new trends in plastics recycling and the impact these trends have on the industry. One of the trends is a discrepancy between input and output qualities. Whereas input materials are expected to come with lower qualities, the required output must feature the highest qualities possible.

Addressing and resolving these new challenges makes the application of the latest sorting technologies critical. As an industry pioneer, TOMRA clearly understands its role in the segment and continuously develops new technologies and optimises existing ones to best serve both customers’ and the market’s needs. Piovesan stated that current market trends have resulted in high demand for recycled polyolefins, but recycling rates are still low. Since the company sees increasing potential in polyolefin recycling, it will further devote its attention and expertise to develop PO-applications. Currently, TOMRA is well-positioned in the flake sorting segment and offers two sophisticated flake sorting units – the AUTOSORT® FLAKE and the INNOSORT FLAKE.

Ida Semb, Product Manager at TOMRA Recycling, provided more detail about the key features of AUTOSORT® FLAKE and INNOSORT FLAKE, both of which are used for the recovery of plastic flakes (PET, PO, PVC) as small as 2mm and deliver the purity rates demanded by the market, brand owners and converters. AUTOSORT® FLAKE excels in high-end applications where the level of contaminants is rather low, but the quality requirements are particularly high. INNOSORT FLAKE is applied for more contaminated streams and is available with a PO-specific sensor to sort polyolefins. With its two-metre width, INNOSORT FLAKE provides accurate sorting result while sorting up to six tonnes per hour.

At the close of the presentations, Ida Semb, Product Manager, and Robert Glaser, Technical Product Expert - Flake Sorting, joined Alberto Piovesan and moved on to the demo session. All participants were guided through the Test Centre, where both machines proved their capabilities in the recovery of polyolefins from highly contaminated material mixes and in colour sorting.

Once participants had learned about the company’s plastics strategy, positioning and available solutions for upgrading recycled plastics, Radice concluded the event, thanking the customers and press representatives for being part of the opening celebration and summarising the key take-aways before the group enjoyed the networking opportunities. “We are delighted you were able to join us for this inspiring and informative day. Our key-message is that we are dedicated to shaping the plastics recycling segment and contributing to it with our comprehensive expertise, technologies and, finally, our passion and commitment to enable greater circularity of our resources. With our new Test Centre, we are moving forward and focusing on the development of new solutions for tomorrow’s challenges. We are your partner and live up to our promises. We invite you to come and test your material on our machines and experience the possibilities when upgrading plastics.”

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