Industry News and Trends

25 May 2019

The system sorts the trash (almost) completely autonomously

Europe’s most advanced sorting system for lightweight packaging has begun work in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It separates garbage according to 14 different material types and is largely automated.

Roland Freist

A new packaging law has been in place since the start of 2019, which stipulates higher rates of recycling. In order to stay abreast of the changes, French waste disposal company SUEZ has put a new sorting system for lightweight packaging into operation in the municipality of Ölbronn in Baden-Württemberg. It is designed to handle up to 100,000 tons of waste per year, which equates to around 200,000 yellow bags per day, and sorts the garbage according to 14 different material types, of which nine fractions are plastic. Only five of the fractions are inspected on-site by people, all of the others are checked using automated processes.

This is made possible thanks to a series of networked monitoring techniques, such as predictive maintenance, camera-based near-infrared separators and weighing and compacting the sorted material in an automated manner. The incoming waste deliveries are also stored in an odorless underground bunker, which is separated from the sorting systems using a fireproof wall with an automatically sealing bulkhead.

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