How Optical Sorting Systems Work for Recycling

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Effectively sorting waste is essential to the recycling process. If waste isn’t properly sorted, recycling contamination can occur—which leads to excessive waste quantities. In addition, improperly sorted waste could cause costly damages to recycling equipment, halt the recycling process, and pose serious safety threats to recycling workers. One of the most advanced and effective ways to ensure that recyclable materials are properly sorted is by utilizing an optical sorting system. To better understand how optical sorting systems work for recycling, continue reading.

What is an optical sorting system?

An optical sorting system refers to machinery that identifies and separates a wide range of recyclable materials, such as plastics, paper, cardboard, wood, glass, and other items. Such systems are commonly used in many recycling centers to streamline the sorting process, reduce labor costs, and increase throughput to make recycling efforts more efficient.

How do optical sorting systems for recycling work?

The first step in the optical sorting process is simply loading the waste material onto an accelerator or high-speed conveyor belt to thin it out. After the material has been loaded, it will pass under a bright light. The recyclables on the belt will absorb some light waves while, others are reflected, thus generating a distinct light “signature” or fingerprint depending on the material. Several camera lenses that are directed at the belt will record the light signature, which helps identify the desired materials.

Once the targeted materials have been identified, the spectrometer will send signals to a computer which controls the entire process. The computer will then calculate the desired recyclable’s location and send a blast of compressed air towards it to separate it from the other material. Some optical sorting systems will also utilize magnets to attract and separate desired materials.

To improve the efficiency and economic value of your waste management process, Crigler offers a range of new and used recycling equipment for various industries and applications—including waste sorting systems. To provide the unique solution to waste handling that you require, our sorting systems can be custom-made to your exact specifications. For more information regarding our products, contact us today.