Waste Management In Action

High resolution optics: Wastech Engineering

With the installation of optical sorting equipment, a recent MRF upgrade from Wastech Engineering saw capture rates increase by 30 per cent.

With new technologies emerging each day, e-waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in Australia.

E-waste contains a variety of extremely valuable metals, plastics, and minerals to be recovered, as well as hazardous materials that must be disposed of in an environmentally sound way.

According to Scott Foulds, Wastech Engineering General Manager – Projects, e-waste recycling requires a commitment from the whole supply chain, so the recovery of valuable materials can be maximised when products reach their end of life.

“With increased e-waste generation, complex stream compositions and growing pressure to divert waste from landfill, materials recovery facility (MRF) operators require a range of sophisticated technologies to help sort and separate their material,” he says.

“We have risen to the occasion, leading the industry with innovative technology and features to overcome challenges and forge opportunities.”

One of Wastech’s key innovations in this space, Scott says, is the development and distribution of state-of-art MSS optical sorters.

He adds that Wastech has been working with the US-based company since 2012. MSS is a part of Wastech partners CP Group, a world leader in designing, manufacturing and installing commingled recycling facilities.

Scott explains that in addition to e-waste, MSS’ optical equipment can efficiently sort plastics, paper and cardboard, containers and a range of other material streams.

Wastech and CP Group built their first plant, a 30 tonne per hour facility in Western Australia, together in 2013.

Since then, Scott says the companies have delivered and installed a range of successful projects across Australia.

“We chose to work with MSS and CP Group as they are at the forefront of this technology and are continually improving and developing their product,” he says.

“This is very important as the market changes and the demand for higher quality outputs continues to increase.”

Through the partnership, Wastech has installed machines to optically sort containers, paper and e-waste.

Scott explains that the due to the flexibility of the technology, Wastech’s customer base is wide-reaching and ranges from councils to private waste and recycling companies, large and small.

“We recently did an upgrade of an existing 30 tonne per hour commingled MRF, which included the supply of two new MSS optical sorters for the customer’s mixed paper and container line,” he says.

“The project included the design and integration of the optical sorters into the existing MRF, plus meeting the performance specifications required by the customer.”

According to Scott, the project produced better results than expected by Wastech and its customer.

“Capture rates on all products increased by 30 per cent, the amount of material going to landfill was reduced and they were able to remove seven manual sorters from of the container line,” he says

“These results produced a significant increase in revenue from capture rates, and reduced tonnes previously going to landfill.”

One of the most important aspects of effective optical sorting is ensuring material is evenly distributed across the high-speed conveyor belt when presented to the optical sorter head, Scott says.

He adds that it’s equally important to have a consistent feed rate, with no peaks and troughs.

“This allows the optical sorting system to accurately identity the items to be sorted and ejected, and reduces the chance of contamination,” he says.

MSS optical sorters are available in a variety of sizes, and can be equipped with add-on’s, including an all-metal detector for sorting out metals, or an additional air-ejection array to create a third output fraction.

The sorters feature a user intuitive interface that provides setup flexibility with the touch of a button, Scott explains. Additionally, he adds that the colour touchscreen provides remote access via modem or Ethernet connection.

“Processing and sorting statistics are generated automatically and can be downloaded into spreadsheets and databases by the user,” Scott says.

“Using a split configuration also allows our customers to process parallel streams on one machine simultaneously.”

Wastech’s MSS range of optical sorters utilise high pixel resolution NIR cameras to identify small, crushed or labelled items.

“The higher number of NIR and colour wavelength with the broader NIR spectrum allows significantly better identification,” Scott says.

“These features, plus the automatic calibration function, makes sure the optical sorter is working fully optimised at all times.”

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