I was in Ningbo (Zhejiang Province) several days ago to visit a friend that recently purchased a TiTech Optical Sorter. Basically, the machine uses a conveyor belt to drive shredded plastic pieces under an optical sensor which then uses an air-jet to pick or “shoot” out the desired plastic type. While the optical sorter can only pick out 1 plastic type at a time, it’s able to separate a wide variety of plastic scrap including ABS, ABS/PC, HIPS, PS, PET, PETG, PVC, PP, etc…
This is definitely a step up from the manual separation of e-scrap plastics, however, the machine has many limitations:
- The plastic you feed into the conveyor needs to be around 3-5cm.
- It takes 2-3 passes before the plastic is completely sorted.
- The sorter is not very sensitive to black or dark pieces.
- The regrinds need to be clean or relatively clean.
One of the largest issues with plastic recycling is sorting by plastic type. If we can perfect this technology, it would make the recycling of plastic a much simpler process which will lead to the increase of plastics recycled.