Tomra targets flame retardants with technology
The TOMRA Sorting Recycling exhibit stand at the 2019 IERC in Salzburg, Austria.

Tomra targets flame retardants with technology

Company says its AutoSort and X-Tract machines can remove up to 98 percent of plastics containing brominated flame retardants.

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February 1, 2019

Germany-based Tomra Sorting Recycling says its technology marketed to the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) sector can remove of up to 98 percent of plastics containing brominated flame retardants (BFRs) from mixed plastic scrap streams.

In a presentation at the 2019 International Electronics Recycling Congress (IERC), held in mid-January in Salzburg, Austria.  

Tomra  indicated company’s near infrared and X-Ray technologies will be critical to address legislation in Europe prohibiting the re-use of plastics containing (BFRs) will  explained how combining the

 “Now that plastic [scrap] can no longer be shipped to China, there is growing demand from recyclers for pre-separated polymers that are BFR-free,” says Judit Jansana, head of Tomra Sorting Iberia, who was part of the Tomra team at the Salzburg event. “IERC 2019 was the perfect venue for Tomra to spotlight how its AutoSort and X-Tract machines can achieve this with remarkably high efficiency.”

Tomra’s presentation stated that electrical and electronic devices contain from 3 to 60 percent plastic, and approximately 30 percent of those plastics contain flame retardants.

Tomra’s AutoSort can begin a process to extract these materials by using near infrared (NIR) technology to separate the input of mixed polymers, typically from IT and household appliances, into polymers fractions – creating, for example, a PC/ABS (polycarbonates/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) fraction or a HIPS (high-impact polystyrene) fraction.

Each fraction is then passed separately through Tomra’s X-Tract machine, with X-ray technology that can separate BFR polymers from BFR-free polymers. This occurs because flame-retardant elements have higher atomic densities that absorb more energy. TOomra says the technology works on plastic of all colors, meaning black plastic is not an issue.

Citing the future of the EU’s RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive, “which seems set to restrict bromine content to much lower limits,” Insana adds, “The [recycling] sector is very aware of this, and further technological developments will be necessary to comply. Tomra will be continuing working side-by-side with customers to help them.”

Tomra Sorting Recycling designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting technologies for the global recycling and waste management industry, with more than 5,500 systems installed in nearly 80 countries worldwide.It is owned by Norway-based Tomra Systems ASA.