Packaging solutions company rPlanet Earth has opened a new 302,000-square-foot plastics recovery and production facility, capable of producing 80 million pounds of food and drink packaging annually. Germany-based Krones supplied its bottle-grade flake production system, including the Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) front-end bottle sorting system. The automated BHS purification system processes more than 6 tons per hour (tph) of baled post-consumer PET and runs nearly 24 hours a day, noted BHS.
The BHS 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. 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 information and analytics platform.
rPlanet Earth previously noted that there is a market demand for recycled PET (RPET) if the right quality, price and availability are in place. This facility meets this demand and offers a 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,” said rPlanet Earth Co-CEO Bob Daviduk in a statement. “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.”
“This is a really amazing process, and we are honored to have supplied the front-end system for Krones and rPlanet Earth,” said Rich Reardon, BHS vice president of sales and marketing, in a statement. “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.”