New Zealand PET recycling plant features Sesotec sorting systems

New Zealand PET recycling plant features Sesotec sorting systems

Flight Group Ltd. produces thermoforms from recycled PET.

February 28, 2019

With the help of a grant from New Zealand’s Waste Minimization Fund, Wellington, New Zealand-based Flight Group Ltd. has added a new wash line to what it calls the country’s first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling plant. The line, installed in 2017, was part of an NZ$8 million ($5.4 million), five-year investment program Flight started in 2012 to research and introduce the latest extrusion and thermoforming capability and capacity.

Flight Group was established in 1907 and initially made leather luggage. It is still privately held by members of the founding Osborne family. Flight moved into plastic production in the 1970s. It also has PET product manufacturing plants in Adelaide, Australia, and Romsey, United Kingdom.

Keith Smith, CEO of Flight Plastics Ltd., also based in Wellington, says the wash plant and other work at the facility enables Flight Plastic to produce thermoformed packaging made from recycled PET bottles. The company installed extrusion equipment to use recycled PET flakes starting in 2014, using imported flake to prove the process and establish a customer base.

The company had encouraging results, so the next step was to install its own wash plant. Flight Plastic has the capacity to recycle 6,000 metric tons of PET annually. It gets feedstock from curbside collections around the nation, which yields about 8,000 metric tons annually.

As a part of the investment in a wash plant, Flight Plastics installed a multisensor sorting line, including two bottle sorters and a flake sorter, with equipment from Sesotec GmbH of Germany.

Incoming PET bottles are feed to Sesotec‘s Varisort MN multisensor sorting system. This system was installed to separate PET bottles from other polymers using near-infrared sensor N as well as from metals using metal sensor M. Flight Plastics also decided to install a Varisort CN. This second unit is equipped with color sensors C and near-infrared sensor N for material identification and sorts and sorting into a transparent clear and a colored fraction.

Those sorted bottles are feed into a cutting mill, where they are cut to the desired flake size, and passed through a washing and drying process. In the next step Sesotec‘s Flake Purifier multisensory sorting system is used to perform a final cleaning of the PET flakes, removing any remaining off-colors, wrong polymers and small metal pieces. This multisensor configuration equipped with a high-resolution out-blast system allows high sorting efficiency combined with low material loss rates, Sesotec says. Depending on the application, the three sensors can be used individually or in combination.