El Segundo, California based PET packaging recycler, rPlanet Earth, has opened a new 302,000 square-foot (28,000 square metre) plastics recovery and production facility, capable of producing 80 million pounds (36,287 metric tonnes) of food and drink packaging annually.
The plant features a bottle-grade flake production system from German equipment manufacturer, Krones, including the Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) front-end bottle sorting system. The highly automated BHS purification system processes more than 6 tonne-per-hour (tph) of baled post-consumer PET and runs nearly 24 hours a day.
The system employs BHS screen, Nihot air, NRT optical and Max-AI robotic sorting technologies to produce a highly-pure clear PET product for further processing. As material travels down the line five NRT optical sorters with In-Flight Sorting® technology remove metals, mixed plastics and colored PET, and positively sort clear PET.
The Max-AI AQC-2, an Artificial Intelligence-directed robotic sorter, uses a camera, neural networks, and two robots to autonomously perform the final quality control (QC). Aluminum, metals and mixed plastics are recovered for recycling by other processors.
BHS also supplied the recently launched Total Intelligence Platform, a system that automatically processes information from the controls system and motors, optical and Max-AI equipment, scales, baler and other sensors to provide an easy-to-use information and analytics platform.
Price, Quality and Demand
rPlanet Earth has previously noted that there is a market demand for RPET if the right quality, price and availability are in place. This facility meets this demand and offers a much-needed domestic processor of U.S. recovered PET.
The plant does not sell flake or pellets and instead offers a closed-loop process, taking PET bales and converting them in-house into bottle preforms, extruded sheet and thermoform packaging.
Krones MetaPure technology meets approved scientific guidelines of the large consumer packaged goods companies and are greenlit by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to produce food and beverage-contact products.
“We really are a technology company,” explained rPlanet Earth co-CEO Bob Daviduk. “We’re going to bring technology to bear to improve the way that post-consumer PET is recycled. We’ll have the lowest carbon footprint of any packaging in the marketplace because of the way we’ve put the plant together.”
BHS Vice President of Sales & Marketing Rich Reardon added: “This is a really amazing process and we are honored to have supplied the front-end system for Krones and rPlanet Earth. This system fills the demand for RPET from producers and is also a domestic outlet for our MRF operators – it’s a true win-win.”
“The commitment to technology really led to an impressive, automated and high-performance system and we look forward to working with rPlanet Earth and Krones to ensure their continued long-term success,” he concluded.
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