STEINERT’s high-tech systems optimise sorting and recycling rates for disposal companies

Work with STEINERT to increase the degree of sorting and purity – a key aspect of the new German Packaging Ordinance (VerpackV) and the green fence around China

It’s a turbulent time for operators of sorting facilities: through its more demanding German Packaging Ordinance and a stricter Commercial Waste Ordinance (GewAbfV) as of 2019, the German government is demanding higher recycling rates. At the same time, China is closing its borders to recycling firms – at least for contaminated materials. The STEINERT Group, a specialist in magnet and sensor technology, already has solutions for its customers’ challenges. STEINERT is presenting forward-looking sorting solutions at the IFAT 2018, the world’s leading trade fair for managing wastewater, water, waste and raw materials, which runs from 14 to 18 May in Munich.

As long ago as 1991, the German federal government passed the German Packaging Ordinance to stem the growing flood of plastics. This imposes on manufacturers that bring plastic packaging into circulation an obligation to finance the "dual system". This allows disposal companies to separate plastic waste from yellow bins by material fraction, send some for recycling and incinerate others. The German government has adapted the German Packaging Ordinance to prevailing EU legislation and environmental challenges seven times so far. 1 January 2019 will see the introduction of the eighth amendment, which increases the recycling rates for plastic packaging from its previous level of 36 percent to 63 percent in 2022. This is a response to the fact that the rapid rise in online shopping has allowed the flood of plastic to get far too big.

Operators of sorting facilities see this more demanding legislation as a challenge. In the future, their facilities will have to sort plastic components in ways much more drastic than they have been designed for. For example, this includes sheet materials made from PE and PP, most of which have been incinerated to date. Several disposal companies have already announced the construction of new sorting facilities. “STEINERT’s range includes both magnet and sensor sorting machines to provide these companies with forward-looking technologies, which will allow them to meet the rising recycling rates of the new German Packaging Ordinance,” says Hendrik Beel, Managing Director of the STEINERT Group.

Keeping things quiet and peaceful: calming channel prevents sheets from flying away during sorting

PVC sheets, bio-based sheets and agricultural sheeting have one annoying feature in common: they are hard to sort mechanically. They are so light that they lift off the sorting system’s conveyor belt, fly around and cannot be reliably detected by the camera system. To resolve this, in desperation many sorting firms use a belt speed far below the standard of 2.8 metres a second – at the expense of throughput and therefore the cost-effectiveness of the sorting equipment.

But STEINERT has an answer to this problem: the UniSort Film sorting machine. Above its conveyor belt there is a calming tunnel – known as the Active Object Control (AOC) System. The tunnel produces a gentle air flow, just strong enough to press the plastic sheets onto the belt and hold them there. This allows disposal firms to work at belt speeds of up to 5 metres a second and increase the throughput of their sorting system.

And how does the system distinguish between different kinds of plastic? It uses a modern detection unit, the UniSort PR. A light source illuminates the conveyor belt while a near-infrared camera (NIR) captures the reflected light. STEINERT software analyses its spectrum and thereby detects the type of plastic. This camera is more effective than many competitor systems. “We use a line scan camera, which views 320 measuring points along the entire width of the conveyor belt at any one time,” says Beel. “This is far superior to conventional systems where the camera views jump about wildly. Every hour, companies using our NIR technology can fully automatically sort several tons of plastic – with a rate of success of up to 99 percent.” This results in pure products of a quality that again makes economic sense to sell to China.

UniSort Black: for the first time ever, plant operators can sort black plastics

In the past most black plastics have tended to end up in the residual fraction for incineration because they cannot be reliably detected even with NIR cameras. This is because the carbon black used to blacken the material absorbs the electromagnetic radiation in the visible and infrared wavelength range. The machine is basically blind. Given the imminent more stringent recycling rates being demanded, it is however imperative that black plastics can also be sorted.

STEINERT has therefore developed the UniSort Black, a sorting system using what is known as Hyper Spectral Imaging technology (HSI). “Thanks to a very high spectral resolution, the camera is also able to detect black objects which cannot be seen by conventional NIR systems,” explains recycling expert Beel. “Plant operators can therefore specifically sort black plastics.” Not only does this enable them to meet the greater demands of the new German Packaging Ordinance, “they can also produce and market homogeneous and high-value granulate for recycling. Their investment in the system therefore pays off very quickly.”

New German Commercial Waste Ordinance (GewAbfV) puts pressure on sorting firms

It’s not just the German Packaging Ordinance that is getting tougher. On 1 August 2017, the demands of the Commercial Waste Ordinance were also increased. In order to increase the ratio of valuable residues being recycled from commercial, construction and demolition waste, the German federal government redefined the technical requirements for sorting facilities. By 1 January 2019, disposal firms will have to convert their facilities to extract plastics, timber, metal and glass from waste mixes more accurately than ever before, to separate them homogeneously and to send them to recycling. The new ratio for sorting is 85 percent and that for recycling is 30 percent. STEINERT’s UniSort PR NIR sorting system is able to achieve this. And during the VDMA demonstration days in the outdoor area at the IFAT trade fair, STEINERT is presenting a mobile solution for processors of scrap wood who want to meet the GewAbfV requirements. This new development is a mobile non-ferrous and ferrous metal separator. The mobile system separates ferrous and non-ferrous metals early on in the process; it is flexible and can be used without planning permission.

“Many companies are still not ready for these stringent requirements,” says Beel. What’s more, the new product will allow them to improve their sales opportunities on the global market. “In the past, China was one of the biggest buyers of scrap metal, but has drastically reduced its import quotas and is continually cutting the level of impurities it will tolerate. Sorting facilities, which separate homogeneously are giving themselves a huge competitive edge.”

Metalle sortenrein trennen – ein Erfolgsfaktor für Metallaufbereiter

In der Metallaufbereitung setzt STEINERT auf zwei Faktoren: Reinheit und die Aufbereitung von Fine-Fraktionen. Nicht erst seit China seine Importquote für Misch-Produkte reduziert, arbeiten die Ingenieure mit Hilfe der Kombination unterschiedlicher Sensoren an einer immer höheren Sortiertiefe. So lassen sich mit der Multi-Sensormaschine STEINERT KSS Metalle sortenrein trennen. Sie ist eine Plattform, auf der verschiedene Sensoren zum Einsatz kommen: 3D-, Farb- und Induktionserkennung. The system can also be fitted with a fourth sensor (near-infrared, x-ray transmission or x-ray fluorescence sensor). Der Röntgensensor sorgt für das Trennen von Schwermetallen aus einer Leichtmetallfraktion (z.B. Aluminium). Ergänzt man die 3D-Erkennung, gelingt es sogar, nach Legierungen zu trennen. Die von STEINERT entwickelte Erkennungssoftware ist zukunftsfähig: Die Programmier-Experten legten großes Augenmerk auf die zukünftige Erweiterbarkeit durch neue Erkennungsalgorithmen.

Um Fine-Fraktionen, die beispielsweise von Windsichtern abgesaugt werden, kostspielig auf der Müllkippe zu deponieren, gibt es für das Metallrecycling den NE-Scheider STEINERT EddyC® FINES – eine Sortieranlage deren exakte Einstellbarkeit des Scheitelblechs es ermöglicht, auch NE-Metalle aus besonders feinen Rückständen bis zu einer Korngröße von 0,5 Millimetern zurückzugewinnen. Auch STEINERTs UniSort Flake C arbeitet im Feinkornbereich und spart Deponiekosten, indem er die aus dem NE-Scheider extrahierte Fraktion nach Farbe sortieren kann. So kann der UniSort Flake C farbliche Unterschiede erkennen und beispielsweise Kupfer (alle Rottöne) austragen und anschließend unterschiedliche Graustufen, wie von Zink und Blei, unterscheiden.

Neue, strengere RAL-Richtlinien für Düngemittel aus Bioabfall

2018 wird auch Betriebe vor Herausforderungen stellen, die Düngemittel und Bodenverbesserungsmittel aus Bioabfall herstellen. Zumindest dann, wenn sie ihre Produkte mit der RAL-Gütesicherung für Kompost bewerben (RAL-G2-251) – eine freiwillige Produktzertifizierung der Bundesgütegemeinschaft Kompost (BGK), die vom deutschen Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung (RAL) zertifiziert ist. Sie schreibt Herstellern bislang vor, dass sich in einem Liter Frischsubstanz maximal 25 Quadratzentimeter Fremdstoffe befinden dürfen. Am 1. Juli 2018 wird dieser Wert auf 15 Quadratzentimeter sinken. Betreiber von Kompostanlagen sind dann mehr denn je auf leistungsstarke Sortieranlagen angewiesen, die Fremdstoffe aus dem immer stärker verunreinigten Bioabfall ziehen. Mit Technologien wie der UniSort-Sortieranlage von STEINERT erreichen sie Quoten von bis zu 99 Prozent, bei Durchsätzen von bis zu zehn Tonnen pro Stunde.