Transitioning to a more circular economy and minimising waste is essential to develop a sustainable, low carbon, resource-efficient and competitive economy. An efficient material characterisation before recycling can boost companies’ competitiveness, creating new business opportunities and innovative, more efficient ways of producing and consuming.
In a number of countries and in various industrial situations, waste is already separated during the collection process: mixed plastic waste can then be sorted and separated into broad material categories (e.g. polyolefin, polyesters, vinyl, etc.) using various physical and optical methods.
Current technology is unable to distinguish and separate different, individual materials within the same broad category, such es different types of polypropylene or polyethylene in the polyolefin category. In addition, current technology has major limitations when dealing with small pieces or with black or heavy coloured/filled plastics. Further, it does not provide any information on the composition of the recycled material.
XSpectra® makes materials recycling more effective by improving sorting and characterisation of waste.
XSpectra® is able to differentiate polymers with different composition and/or molecular weight. Thus, it has significant potential for improving the accuracy of sorting technology and enabling it to separate individual waste types, rather than just broad categories of similar materials.
Size, shape, and thickness of the product do not affect XSpectra®’s analytical performance. This makes the new technology best suited for sorting post-consumer waste. Depending on waste source and processing technologies, it may have very different shapes/thicknesses, sizes and size distributions. Material transparency or colour is not a problem, so XSpectra® can easily deal with clear, black, coloured or heavy filled materials (such as black/coloured plastic parts from televisions, computers, and other electronic equipment or coloured/heavy filled plastics from post-consumer automotive waste).
In addition, XSpectra® can provide data and information on material nature and composition (for example content of flame retardants or other additives) that may be key in maximising value to by determining the optimal destination, use, dilution, and processing of the recycled material.
Overall, the new XSpectra® technology is a very helpful tool to overcome the limitations of current technologies in the field and make waste recycling significantly more effective.
In cooperation with other partners, Xnext® is actively developing a project that involves recycling WEEE (Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment), specifically, lamps.