• Rammesh Aluru

NIR Sensors for Recycling Plastics

With an estimated 269,000 tons of plastic debris floating in the ocean, global plastic processors are mainstreaming post-consumer recyclate (PCR) materials. This has given rise to a new industry subsector that sorts mixed recyclate streams using NIR sensors embedded in robotic arms. This is estimated to be a US$ 10.2 bn annual business by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 5.7%, globally.

Flake scan analysis captures data to determine purity of regrind to determine effective use of recyclate by plastic processors. Sample analyses are necessary to assess the quality of materials, and for evaluating the effectiveness of the sorting process. An array of color, near infrared, and metal sensors automatically provide precise, reproducible analyses of samples by detecting color errors, plastic types, and metallic contaminants. The composition of each batch of flakes can be determined within minutes, followed by segregation of material using robotic arms.

Indian plastic processors would hugely benefit by aligning their processes and technology with these developments in recycling, thus improving sustainability quotient.



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