New Technology Reduces Complexity & Cost & Increases Recycling Rates

Rethinking Deinking: TOMRA E-Book For Paper Recycling

A new downloadable e-book from TOMRA Sorting Recycling looks at the commercial and regulatory pressures on deinking and recycling paper and cardboard.

TOMRA optical sorting sorting Recycling paper

A new downloadable e-book from TOMRA Sorting Recycling looks at the commercial and regulatory pressures on deinking and recycling paper and cardboard.

The company explained that the new publication also introduces a new technology which reduces complexity and costs while increasing recovery rates.

The new online publication addresses the rising commercial and regulatory pressures for higher recovery rates of deinked pulp, and the fact that meeting these demands will require new technical solutions.

Deinking needs rethinking
The supply of deinked and recycled paper is already insufficient to meet demand, and demand is continuing to rise. Europe and North America, the world leaders in paper and cardboard recycling, have made great progress over the past two decades, but now their recycling rates are levelling out.

Europe recycled 72.5% of all the paper it consumed in 2016, but the European Declaration on Paper Recycling has set the goal of recycling 74% by 2020.

The e-book explained that this is a difficult challenge because all the ‘easy wins’ have already been won. Future regulations will only intensify pressures on the paper and print industries to improve recycling (and hence also deinking) rates. One indicator of likely future trends is the European Commission’s goal of making Europe a ‘circular economy’.

Strict certification standards such as the EU Ecolabel and Germany’s Blue Angel quality-mark are expected to become even more demanding. Even now, public procurement policies are being changed to encourage more paper and cardboard deinking and recycling.. Another example of the impact of tightening regulations is China’s National Sword policy, which came into force earlier this year.

For years China took almost half of all global waste paper exports, but now all recyclable materials arriving in the country must have purity levels greater than 99.5%, which means much more paper sorting, deinking and recycling is having to be done ‘at home’ prior to export to China.

However, according to TOMRA’s e-book, more can be done. Whereas paper fibres are recycled 3.6 times on average in Europe (according to the European Paper Recycling Council), in the rest of the world the average is currently only 2.4 times.

Need to Improve
The document noted that everywhere, there is the need or potential to improve paper recycling rates. In addition to greater emphasis on recyclability in the design and manufacture of paper products, there must also be improvements in techniques for removing ink from paper products and in sorting materials suitable for deinking.

New technology simplifies sorting for deinking, and results in higher recovery rates The second section of TOMRA’s e-book looks at a new technology which can improve sorting paper and cardboard for deinking with impressive results.

The company added that its new solution, dubbed ‘SHARP EYE’ – is a breakthrough made by enhancing its FLYING BEAM® technology, which was already one of the leading sensor technologies on the market.

As the first near-infrared (NIR) scan system with point-scanning (without any need for external lamps), FLYING BEAM focuses intensively on the area of the conveyor belt being scanned and can distinguish even the finest molecular differences in materials flowing down the recycling line.

SHARP EYE’s new optical sensor for higher light intensity has made it possible to detect even the most difficult-to-distinguish properties.

Killer Combo
Now by combining TOMRA’s AUTOSORT machine and SHARP EYE technology, it is claimed to be possible to identify materials suitable for deinking.

And in those cases where a two-step process was previously necessary to achieve recovery of recyclable paper above 90%, it is now possible to achieve rates as high as 96% in just one step. The infeed material sent through AUTOSORT will typically contain polymers and brown and grey cardboards.

This is where AUTOSORT’s precision in detecting material differences is said to be a significant advantage, by identifying grey cardboard, which can look very similar to grey newspaper, or white cardboard which can look like white office-grade paper, and cardboards from supermarket packaging can also look like papers.

“By being able to tell the difference, AUTOSORT avoids over-sorting which wastefully discards usable materials,” said the company in a statement.

The quality of input materials - which varies from nation to nation according to legislation and collecting arrangements - ultimately determines whether a one-step or two-step process is required with AUTOSORT, but TOMRA said that its new process greatly increases the proportion of runs which need only one step.

This reduces the time needed, machinery required, and energy consumed in sorting pulp, to help meet the increasing demand for recycled paper of a high quality.

The manufacturer added that owners of latest-generation AUTOSORT machines can benefit from this progress by upgrading to the TOMRA AUTOSORT with SHARP EYE technology.

The new e-book is downloadable free-of-charge HERE

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