On September 22, 2021, TOMRA Recycling officially opened its new flake sorting Test Center, where the company will develop new applications and solutions in the fields of polyolefins (PO) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) flake sorting while simultaneously expanding its service offering.
Under the theme of “Testing is believing,” TOMRA representatives welcomed roughly 100 participants to its exclusive opening event and guided tour of the new flake sorting facility, located next to its office in Parma, Italy. The inspiring afternoon was filled with informative presentations and demos highlighting the company’s long-term plastics strategy, the purpose and goal of the new facility, and the numerous advantages it offers customers.
Fabrizio Radice, vice president and head of global sales and marketing at TOMRA Recycling, started the exclusive event and gave a detailed explanation of the rationale behind investing in a new Test Center. “We have observed an increasing demand for flake sorting tests and a strong market push for high-quality recycled plastics,” Radice told the large crowd. “This requires the purest material fractions across all plastics applications, and the respective technologies and solutions need to be identified, developed, and optimized. This will happen in our new facility, while closely collaborating with our customers and partners.”
In fact, customer collaboration is at the core of the new facility. Customers from around the world can now ship their plastic flakes to Parma. Together with their respective sales contact, the materials are processed by TOMRA’s flake sorting machines. Based on the test analysis and results, TOMRA will recommend the most suitable machine, process and sensor configuration for the customer’s defined sorting requirements and goals. Customers are provided with an entire business case tailored to their needs before making an investment.
TOMRA’s customers have been benefitting from this concept that has been offered globally (Germany, United States, Japan, Korea, China) for decades. They can now enjoy extended testing capacities, shorter lead times and greater flexibility when it comes to scheduling tests. In addition, its location proves to be particularly convenient. Situated in Parma, at the hearth of one of Europe’s most important industrial and production regions, it can be easily reached via the international airports of Milan, Bologna, Verona and Bergamo.
In the second part of his presentation, Radice detailed why TOMRA is a ‘One Stop Shop Solution.’ First, TOMRA offers a vast portfolio of sensor-based sorters for various applications with AUTOSORT® and its application-specific complementary products at its core. In the plastics segment, AUTOSORT offers technologies for both presorting and flake sorting that work in unison with each other and allow greater operational and financial benefits. Second, going beyond technology, customers and partners profit from TOMRA’s in-depth application knowledge, invaluable consultancy expertise and ongoing service support. The alignment of machines combined with vast expertise and a one-stop service translates into maximum plant performance.
Following Radice, Alberto Piovesan, segment manager plastics EMEA & Americas, presented TOMRA’s flake sorting strategy and position in the plastics segment. The audience learned that the company aims to accelerate and shape the development of the sector through its vast application and industry expertise, consultation, and the most advanced technologies.
The new Test Center will play a crucial role in doing so, as accentuated by Piovesan. “Within only 1.5 years, we established a place where new ideas and innovations are born to best respond to current market trends. More importantly, we are working on solutions that are indispensable for any sorting and recycling plant targeting to successfully upgrade plastics.”
Strong emphasis was also put on the new trends in plastics recycling and the implication these trends have on the industry. One of the trends is seen in a discrepancy of input and output qualities. Whereas input materials are expected to come with lower qualities, the required output must feature the highest qualities possible.
Facing and solving these new challenges makes the application of the latest sorting technologies critical. As an industry pioneer, TOMRA clearly understands its role in the segment and continuously develops new technologies and optimizes existing ones to best serve both the customers’ and market’s needs. Piovesan stated that current market trends have resulted in high demand for recycled polyolefins, but recycling rates are still low. Since the company sees increasing potential in polyolefin recycling, it will further devote its attention and expertise to innovate PO-applications. Currently, TOMRA is well-positioned in the flake sorting segment and offers two sophisticated flake sorting units.
Ida Semb, product manager at TOMRA Recycling, offered more detail and presented the key features of AUTOSORT® FLAKE and INNOSORT FLAKE, both of which are used for the recovery of plastic flakes (PET, PO, PVC) as small as 0.079 in (2 mm) and deliver the purity rates demanded by the market, brand owners and converters. AUTOSORT® FLAKE excels in high-end applications where the level of contaminants is rather low, but the quality requirements are particularly high. INNOSORT FLAKE is applied for more contaminated streams and is available with a PO-specific sensor to sort polyolefins. With its 78.7-in (2-m) width, INNOSORT FLAKE provides accurate sorting result while sorting up to 6.7 tons per hour (6 tonnes per hour).
At the close of the presentations, Semb and Robert Glaser, technical product expert flake sorting, joined Piovesan and moved on to the demo session. All participants were guided into the Test Center, where both machines proved their capabilities in the recovery of polyolefins from highly contaminated material mixes and in color sorting.
After all international participants learned about TOMRA’s plastics strategy, positioning and available solutions for upgrading recycled plastics, Radice returned to conclude the event. He thanked the customers and press for being part of the opening celebration and summarized the key take-aways before the group enjoyed networking opportunities. “We are excited about having guided you through this inspiring and informative day. Our key-message is that we are dedicated to shaping the plastics recycling segment and contribute to it with our comprehensive expertise, technologies, and, finally, our passion and commitment to enable greater circularity of our resources. With our new Test Center, we are moving ahead and focusing on the development of new solutions for tomorrow’s challenges. We are your partner and live up to our promises. We invite you to come, test your material on our machines and believe in what is possible in upgrading plastics.”
TOMRA Recycling designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting technologies for the recycling and waste management industry. More than 7,400 systems are installed in 100 countries around the world.
Responsible for the development of the world's first infrared sensor for waste recycling applications, TOMRA Recycling is a pioneer in the field and through its sensors recovers high-purity fractions from the waste stream that maximize yield and customer benefits.
TOMRA Recycling is part of TOMRA Sorting Solutions, which develops sensor-based sorting and process control systems for the food, mining and other industries. TOMRA Sorting is owned by Norway's TOMRA Systems ASA, which is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Founded in 1972, TOMRA Systems ASA has sales of approximately €985 million and employs more than 4,300 people.