AWS Ecoplastics Limited, the UK's market leader in mixed plastic bottle recycling, is installing a Buhler SORTEX Z+4 sorter at its Hemswell, Lincolnshire, bottle sorting and processing plant.
The purchase was triggered, says Managing Director Jonathan Short, by a requirement to sort PET flakes to food grade plastic recycling standards.
“Packaging for the food industry utilises a combination of virgin and recycled plastic,” he says. “Clearly, the product we supply must be perfect in terms of both colour and polymer. Any error on our part bears a heavy financial cost and, just as importantly, raises questions about our commitment to quality.”
The Buhler SORTEX Z+ optical sorter removes contaminants such as metal, glass, wood, paper and rubber from materials that include PVC, PET, HDPE, LDPE, PVB and PP. Its ability to identify and reject rogue coloured flakes and all foreign material is unmatched.
Jonathan Short selected the Z+ after intensive trials. “There were three candidate sorters under evaluation. At the trial site, the sample I submitted was contaminated to a higher degree than would be experienced in live use. The Buhler Sortex team produced an outstanding result in four hours and demonstrated a complete understanding of our objectives.
“The most important consideration from my point of view was performance. Standards for UK food packaging production are exceptionally rigorous and value overrides price. Having said that, I am happy that all the numbers felt right.”
AWS Ecoplastics Limited was established in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2000 by Jonathan Short under its former name of Alternative Waste Solutions Limited. It changed its name recently as part of a major re-branding exercise to better reflect its status in the recycling sector.
The company's objective is to take advantage of the growing opportunities created by the diversion of waste from landfill to recycling. “We are creating success in a growth industry that, while it has a low public profile, is making a massive contribution to the green agenda that is driven both by public concern and government legislation,” says Jonathan Short. “At Hemswell, for example, we are on course to increase production from 25,000 metric tonnes per annum to 100,000 metric tonnes per annum .”
Buhler is a global leader in the field of process engineering, especially technologies for producing foods and engineering materials. Buhler sells into over 140 countries and has some 6900 employees worldwide. In fiscal 2007, the Group generated sales of CHF 1770 million.