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Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association Scottish Plastics and Rubber Association

Plastic Recycling and the Development of B♻SS (Baffle Oscillating Separation System)

Early Model BOSS System

 

Steven Burns, Development Manager at Impact Solutions, presented the latest of this year’s SPRA technical meetings, on plastic recycling, where he gave a general overview of recycling in the UK before going on to discuss a novel separation system for plastics which he and his team have developed at Impact.

In the overview Steven mentioned that Scotland has introduced a ban on plastic to landfill, and that the EU has introduced targets which dictate that 60% of plastic should be recycled by 2020.

Covering the main waste streams for plastics, namely household waste and industrial waste, Steven went on to discuss separation systems currently used by MRFs (material recycling facilities) to raise the value of plastic waste.  These usually start with a manual sorting line which separates the plastic from the non-plastic waste, then uses either sink-float baths or Near Infra-Red (NIR) separation.

 

MiniBOSS in action
The sink-float tank usually uses water to separate plastics into different density fractions i.e. those which float – typically PE and PP, and those that sink – PS, PET, ABS, PVC etc. The problem with this is that polymer streams are still heavily mixed.  The density of water can be changed e.g. addition of salt but this introduces added cost and complication.

The NIR system separates using infrared to identify the polymer.  Purities of typically 90 to 95% can be achieved by this method.  However, the system is expensive, typically £600,000 and cannot work with black coloured plastics which can count for 30% of waste.

It was with the aim of separating PE and PP with water that Impact embarked on a development program starting in 2010.  Steven covered the stages from inception using bench scale models with oscillating paddles to the commercial B♻SS system which has gone on sale this year.  B♻SS is a Baffle Oscillating Separation System which can separate 1T/ hr of mixed PE and PP polymer into separate fractions of purity 90 to 95% at a fraction of the cost (~£120,000) of the NIR system.  This provides uplift in the value of the PE and PP fractions of £200/T compared to the mixed fraction.

Commercial BOSS System
Not only does B♻SS separate the polymers which float in water but it also separates out the heavy fraction which sinks.  With the uplift in value of the polymers, payback on a system can be as low as 6 to 9 months, depending on throughput.

To finish off his talk Steven brought in a demonstration model which attracted a lot of interest.

 

Les Rose, SPRA Membership Secretary, December 2015

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Technical Info from SPRA

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  • Processes Moulding, Extrusion, Thermoforming, Ancillaries.
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