Recycling | 3 MINUTE READ

Meet the 2018 Plastics Recycling Innovators

This year features a variety of various recycling technologies and yes, lots of innovation.


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During the 2018 Plastics Recycling Conference in Nashville, The Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) recognized the innovators selected for the 2018 APR Plastics Recycling Showcase during the APR Technical Forum. This year features a variety of various technologies and yes, lots of innovation.

“For the third year running, this program commends innovators that address technical challenges facing plastic recyclers,” says John Standish, APR’s Technical Director. “Innovation drives the growth of recycling, and is essential to the success of the plastics recycling industry.”

Let’s take a closer look at the 2018 innovators:

NRT’s The Max-AI AQC (Autonomous Quality Control)

BHS, Eugene, Ore., is a provider of the manufacturing and installation recycling, waste-to-energy, and construction and demolition industries. Wholly-owned subsidiaries include Nihot (Amsterdam), NRT (Nashville) and Zero Waste Energy (SF Bay Area).

The company’s Max-AI artificial intelligence technology identifies materials, makes intelligent decisions and directs equipment such as robotic sorters. Through deep learning technology, Max-AI employs both multilayered neural networks and a vision system to see and identify objects the way a person does. According to the company, the technology is driving improvements in MRF and PRF design, operational efficiency, recovery and purity, system optimization, maintenance and more. The Max-AI Autonomous Quality Control (ACQ) combines this intelligent technology with a robotic sorter to pick and place up to six different material types in one location. “The AQC outperforms manual sorting in this role, consistently making smart decisions and 65 picks per minute over multiple shifts,” the company stated.


The Coca Cola Company’s 89 oz. bottle of Simply Juice in collaboration with Indorama Ventures and CKS Packaging Inc.

This next one involved Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Indorama Ventures PCL, Bangkok, Thailand, a global producer of PET resins and CKS Packaging, Atlanta, a developer and manufacturer of rigid plastic containers. The 89oz Simply package has been converted to Indorama Ventures 5507 material, an APR recognized grade of extrudable polyethylene terephthalate (EBM PET). This now allows the package to carry the recycle code #1 symbol, communicating its compatibility with the PET recycle stream. This conversion represents the first commercial application of this new grade of EBM PET designed and developed for use on shuttle extrusion blow-molding equipment, according to the companies. The label also features a adhesive that can be removed during the recycling process.


Fimic Continuous Melt Filter

Italian-based Fimic SRL produces automatic self-cleaning melt filters particularly suitable for heavily contaminated molten plastics. The company’s RAS continuous melt filter features a reported unique scraping system acting on either a punched or laser-drilled filtering disc screen. Two blades made of flexible steel scrape the perforated screen and collect the contamination from the screen into the scraper’s chambers. Thanks to the laser technology, the Fimic RAS Filter covered the blown film market, by using laser-drilled screens available from 80 micron/160 mesh to 250 micron/60 mesh, the company stated. Fimic reportedly guarantees the filtration of any contamination type, even the most aggressive, like metal pieces or sand.

The evolution of RAS will be installed for the first time in 2018. There is an increase of more heavily contaminated material on the market. Therefore, the need for finer filtration to achieve better output quality has grown. In order to protect a costly part like the laser screen, a “safety filter” is often needed. Instead of installing two separate filters, and a melt pump between them (or even two separate extruders), Fimic created a double filtration chamber in only one filter body. The first chamber can be equipped with a less expensive punched screen to remove the coarser and often the most dangerous contamination, while the second chamber, placed just after the first one in the same filter structure, can be equipped with a laser screen for very fine filtration (80 micron/160 mesh to 250 micron/60 mesh).

“These companies exemplify the tremendous innovation happening across the packaging and equipment platforms that support the growth of plastics recycling,” commented Steve Alexander, president of APR. “We are grateful to this year’s innovators, and look forward to working with the industry to continue promoting new technologies that provide additional pathways to sustainability.”