Sorting technology developed that can recognise 12 types of plastics

The sorting technology will be installed at PLASTIX's recycling facility in Denmark

Researchers have developed new sorting technology that can identify 12 different types of plastics.

In collaboration with Vestforbrænding, Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps, and PLASTIX, researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University have developed a new camera technology that can see the difference between the majority of household plastics.


These are PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC, PVDF, POM, PEEK, ABS, PMMA, PC, and PA12,

The sorting technology makes it possible to separate plastics based on a purer chemical composition than is possible currently, according to the researchers, and opens up new recycling opportunities to recycle these polymers.

It has been tested at a pilot scale and is planned to be implemented at Danish recyclers PLASTIX and Dansk Affaldsminimering Aps in spring 2022.

Aarhus University Associate Professor Mogens Hinge said: “With this technology, we can now see the difference between all types of consumer plastics and several high-performance plastics.

“We can even see the difference between plastics that consist of the same chemical building blocks, but which are structured slightly differently. We use a hyperspectral camera in the infrared area, and machine learning to analyse and categorise the type of plastic directly on the conveyor belt.

“The plastic can then be separated into different types. It’s a breakthrough that will have a huge impact on all plastics separation.”

A study on the new sorting technology has been peer reviewed in the journal Vibrational Spectroscopy.

PLASTIX chief executive Hans Axel Kristensen added: “The technology we’ve developed in collaboration with the university is nothing short of a breakthrough for our ability to recycle plastics.

“We look forward to installing the technology in our processing hall and starting in earnest on the long journey towards 100% utilisation of waste plastic.”

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