Equipment Innovations Give a Big Boost to Plastics Recycling

(This article originally appeared in the April 2016 edition of Plastics EngineeringClick here to read the original article.)


From technology upgrades to equipment that deals with mounting problems with incoming materials, equipment manufacturers are providing solutions to help plastics recycling grow

By Mike Verespej

plastics engineeringTwo MSS Cirrus® optical sorters, with scan rates of over 300,000 pixels per second (photo courtesy of MSS Inc.).

The growth in plastics recycling, the increased amount of contamination in bales, and the need for reclaimers to become more efficient to offset a tight pricing market are driving innovations in recycling equipment and technology. The innovations run the full spectrum of the recycling process from sorting, washing, cleaning, and drying to the production of the recycled flakes themselves.

But with bale quality being still the most vexing problem for recyclers, much of the focus of innovation has been on ways to improve the efficiency of sorting equipment and finding better ways to deal with the full-wrap shrink sleeves on PET bottles that make it difficult to identify the resin underneath.

“The technology is getting better on bottle sorting, infrared sorting, and flake sorting,” says Byron Geiger, president of Custom Polymers PET LLC, in Athens, Alabama. “You are getting better resolution on the optical cameras and better software on the electronics. “We are losing less PET in our sorting, so the new technologies are helping yields to some degree,” adds Geiger. “But overall, yields are down because bale quality has declined.”

As Geiger explains, a lot of the innovations that have emerged have been in response to “shrink-wrap labels and other non-friendly material and problematic bottles. So we end up spending more resources,” he says, to get the same amount of material out of bales.

It’s a dilemma that equipment manufacturers have made their top priority.

“The number-one thing customers are looking for us to do is to prevent the loss of good material,” says Felix Hottenstein, sales director for MSS Inc., the Nashville, Tennessee-based optical sorting division of CP Group. “That’s driving a number of new developments that help customers improve product quality and decrease the loss of good product.”


Optical Sorterssecond-BG

Just this past December, MSS made improvements to both its Cirrus and L-Vis™ optical sorters, integrating the latest generation high-resolution cameras and infrared spectrometers. Both sorters also now have an optional illuminated reference, which allows the materials to be sorted in-flight over the illuminated reference instead of the traditional approach of detecting and sorting materials on a slide or conveyor belt. It also makes it possible to better adjust the color and light intensity for maximum contrast.

As a result, the company’s MSS Cirrus optical sorter, for example, now has scan rates of 345,600 pixels per second. Its other optical sorter, the L-Vis, is a high-resolution color sorter for small particles, based on camera identification technology.

As a result, the company’s MSS Cirrus optical sorter, for example, now has scan rates of 345,600 pixels per second. Its other optical sorter, the L-Vis, is a high-resolution color sorter for small particles, based on camera identification technology.

“The cameras are getting higher and higher resolution, so we can sort out smaller and smaller particles and get higher accuracy,” says Hottenstein. “The resolution is at least 36 times higher than what we used to have.” In addition, software improvements enable image processing that is “orders of magnitudes” faster than in the past, he adds.




Lessons Learned Operating Las Vegas’ New Massive MRF

“Lessons Learned Operating Las Vegas’ New Massive MRF” was published as a feature article on April 15, 2016 on Read the original article here:

CP-Group---Las-Vegas---KD-18-for-webIt’s been five months since the opening of the 110,000-sq.-ft. Southern Nevada Recycling Center. The $35 million MRF is capable of processing two million pounds of recyclable material per day, or 70 tons per hour, and is expected to double recycling capacity in the area.

Overall, the facility has the capacity to process 265,000 tons on an annual basis. The facility features dual sorting lines, each with a capacity to process 35 tons per hour. The setup means that even if one line goes down, the other can keep running.

Although the center will largely process residential recycling, it also has the capability to process commercial and industrial streams and is designed to adapt as the composition of the recycling stream continues to evolve.

The setup at the Southern Nevada Recycling Center includes five optical sorters that use 2D and 3D technologies to make material separation decisions in milliseconds. The center’s recycling systems also provide operators with an automated, touch screen control system, as well as tablet-based capabilities that allow for real-time systems management and monitoring, data acquisition and remote access.

The capability to run the system off remote human machine interfaces (HMIs) is a change from how previous systems have been run. From tablets—on or off site—the facility’s managers have the ability to do things like re-set screens, adjust sorters and change the speeds of motors.

The MRF is owned by Republic Services Inc. CP Group designed and manufactured the equipment.

Waste360 spoke with a group of CP Group executives about the project and what they’ve learned so far in running the facility. The crew included President and CEO Terry Schneider; Vice President of Operations Mike Whitney; Lead System Engineer Patrick Nicol and Sales and Marketing Director Ashley Davis.

Waste360: The MRF has been up and running now for a few months. What have you learned in the early days of its implementation? What’s worked well? Where have there been challenges?

Nicol: The system is a powerhouse. Early on we had to bring in a bigger loader because the one we were using was not keeping up with the system. The portable touch screens are a hit. They allow plant managers to review and react to any event from anywhere in the plant.

In terms of challenges, we’ve faced no big hurdles. The system’s capabilities allow us to run one line at a time, which was really helpful during the first few weeks. The startup and training went smoothly, thanks in large part to Republic Services.

Waste360: How much material is currently being processed at the site per day?

Nicol: It’s receiving approximately 550 tons per day. That’s about twice the weight of the Statue of Liberty. It’s been tested to process 70 tons per hour. And we’re achieving that with the system.

Schneider: Republic continues to roll out new sectors of the City with automated recycling containers. The ultimate goal is to process 265,000 tons per year to handle the anticipated growth.

Waste360: How has operation gone with the dual sorting lines? What has that functionality meant for the facility’s operation so far?

Nicol: The dual line design gives Republic Services full flexibility in operating the facility. Each of the lines can handle both residential single stream and commercial single stream. That really helps with tip floor management. If you get a large volume of inbound commercial material, you can quickly change the processing to commercial single-stream on either line. Republic has complete flexibility to process residential or commercial material across either line.

Waste360: What’s the experience been using the HMI mobile tablets in running the system? How has that worked relative to what was done before?

Whitney: We’ve been using touch-screen HMI panels for some time. They allow operators to talk to the MRF. At the click of a button, the HMI can adjust the entire system based on a preprogramed recipe tailored for a specific environment.

The Vegas system has seven fixed HMI panels and two mobile HMI tablets. The HMI tablets allow operators to move freely throughout the facility, allowing them to control the plant from anywhere on site. This mobility also allows the operator to see the impact on the end product when an adjustment is completed. Since operators don’t need to go back and forth from the HMI to the machine to resolve issues, the HMI tablets save time.

Waste360: What other technology has CP Group used to help MRF operations?

Whitney: The CP OIS (Office Interface System) is a SCADA (System Controls and Data Acquisition) package that provides full diagnostic readouts on the system that can be accessed by any computer. You can see run times, system efficiency, uptime, downtime, power consumption, belt scale tonnage, historical trends, a detail log of system activity (e-stops, etc,), and just about any other data on the system. This is a breakthrough.

Basically, our OIS allows you to track anything that uses power. What’s more impressive is that our OIS dashboard is accessible from anywhere. Operators for the Las Vegas system can view full system metrics from any computer since the system is web-based. They can also view this data on any cell phone through the phone app we’ve developed. Our OIS literally puts the system in the palm of your hand. The Vegas system is the first in the country to have this level of technology.

This kind of access to vital information allows the operator in Vegas to identify issues quickly and make system adjustments, retrain employees, or apply preventive maintenance processes.

Nicol: A web accessible site allows management to remotely access daily dashboard reports.

Davis: We’ve really been able to streamline the system in terms of maximizing both single stream and commercial lines. Patrick worked with Republic Services to optimize their operation by bypassing certain equipment when processing commercial material, eliminating the need to run equipment that is not necessary. This is a vital component to the system’s efficiency and versatility. We’re proud of this design element and it is something we will be incorporating into our systems in the future.

Waste360: What lessons have been learned here that will be applied in installations elsewhere?

Whitney: Higher demand means facilities are going to be larger than before. The challenge is to minimize design and find improvements. We have around 200 electric motors that had to be wired. We will look at how to streamline the installation process of those.

Another lesson learned is how to be prepared to start a system like this and [coordinate] with our clients. We did this entire installation in 19 weeks. To put in this system in the short time we had is a huge accomplishment for the company and it’s something we will be able to build on when we install smaller systems. We will be able to do those in much shorter timeframes.

It’s also changed a lot of how we are building things out in our shop. We’re looking at more modular platforms and modular conveyers. We will be able to go through engineering much more quickly.

Waste360: What was your experience in working with Republic Services?

Nicol: The Las Vegas facility was a huge project for Republic and for us. We are very proud this project has gone so smoothly. We’ve had a longstanding partnership with Republic. We think they are a fantastic company and we look forward to partnering with them on many future projects. More immediately, we look forward to working with Republic in facilitating tours to showcase the Las Vegas MRF at Waste Expo this year.

Waste360: What’s in the future for CP Group?

Schneider: We’re continuing to design systems to be more flexible as material streams evolve. We’re committed to designing systems with maximum flexibility, allowing plants to adapt to the ever-changing material stream. The Las Vegas system is a great example of this.

In addition to equipment development, we’re continually improving the high-tech elements of our MRFs, like our OIS SCADA system, which gathers system information for use by operators, allowing them to access system-wide data in a user-friendly interface via both fixed and mobile panels.

Davis: We design systems to last because we see our customers as partners. Providing services and support for the life of all our systems is a part of that. We stand behind our customers to ensure their needs are met with the right equipment that will provide the best return on their investment over time as different market challenges arise and materials change.

MSS CIRRUS optical sorter achieves high score in independent study of shrink-sleeved PET bottles

CIRRUSMSS Inc., a world leading manufacturer of optical sorting equipment, recently achieved the highest average sorting performance against five competitors, in an independent study. The results of this study were presented at the APR Technical Forum in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 1st, 2016.

The test was intended to determine whether a new type of polyolefin-based shrink label for PET bottles, manufactured by UPM Raflatac, could be commercialized in the current PET market with the existing infrastructure. The test also determined whether the labels could be properly separated both by resin and color.

This testing was facilitated and performed by Plastics Forming Enterprises, LLC, an independent full service testing and R&D company serving the plastics, packaging, recycling and consumer products industries.

The evaluation was carried out at the testing centers of six optical sorter manufacturers. The testing involved several trial runs of sample bottles, as well as other runs of sample bottles mixed in with random PET and Non-PET plastic bottles.

The testing focused on the identification of PET bottles of various colors (substrate) behind the partially or fully sleeved label of various colors, and whether they could be positively or negatively sorted as separate categories.

The MSS CIRRUS achieved the highest average test score (88.2%) amongst the six optical sorter manufacturers, as shown in the bargraph below.

“This study further underlines that the MSS proprietary CIRRUS NIR + Color sensing and identification hardware and software are superior to other technologies, including NIR cameras and channelized scanners,” says Felix Hottenstein, MSS Sales Director. “And it does apply to flake sorting applications as well.”

“The CIRRUS is MSS’s latest generation of high-resolution NIR, color and metal sensor technology,” says Greg Thibado, MSS Vice President. “This technology allows MSS to offer solutions for some of the toughest sorting requirements.”

The full report and public presentation of the results in PDF format are available from MSS upon request.

MSS is a division of CP Group. CP Group designs and manufactures material recovery facilities and recycling equipment for Single Stream Recycling, Construction and Demolition Waste, Commercial and Industrial Waste, Waste to Energy, Municipal Solid Waste, Electronic Scrap, Auto-Shredder Residue, and more.


Largest and Smartest Residential Recycling Center in North America

CP Group Technology Featured in Republic Services’ new Largest and Smartest Residential Recycling Center in North America

A look at the sophisticated technology inside the facility

CP Group - Las Vegas - KD-27 (cropped)Las Vegas, NV, (January 5, 2016) – CP Group, in partnership with Republic Services, Inc., unveiled a new, state-of-the-art recycling center at a grand opening ceremony on November 12.  The 110,000 square foot Southern Nevada Recycling Center has been dubbed by Republic Services as “the largest and smartest residential recycling center in North America.” The grand opening reception last November welcomed over 450 attendees to tour the facility and education center.


Site development constructed by Cambridge Companies and equipment installation by CP Group was completed in a remarkable 12 months, from the groundbreaking in November 2014 to the grand opening at the end of 2015. CP Group engineered the residential and commercial single-stream processing system, capable of processing two million pounds of recyclable material per day, or 70 tons per hour. This capability is expected to double recycling capacity throughout Clark County, Nevada.


Engineered Solutions


The facility features dual 35 TPH sorting lines. The dual lines system provides operational flexibility. Republic is able to process one or both lines, and is capable of bypassing certain parts of the system when running different material types. The center will largely process residential recycling and has the capability to process commercial and industrial streams. This built-in flexibility allows the system to adapt as the composition of the recycling stream continues to evolve.


“There are scales throughout the system,” says Terry Schneider, CEO of CP Group. “[The incoming tonnage] can be calculated on a constant basis.” He adds that shaft speeds and screen angles can be modified based on this information. “It gives you a lot of flexibility.”


The MRF also processes material very quickly. “In 30 minutes, we can process as much recycling as 155 households will generate in a year,” says Len Christopher, general manager for post-collection at Republic Services. “And, we can process [a route truck that travels through the neighborhood] faster than you can order a latte at your favorite coffee shop, in about 2½ minutes.”


Stateof-the-Art Equipment


The system features multiple 2 OCC screens, 3 scalping screens, 2 glass breaker screens, 2 NEWScreens, as well as 4 CPScreens TM separating 2D from 3D material. These screens ensure maximum separation efficiency and provide other flexible sorting capabilities for Republic Services as the ton evolves.


The Southern Nevada Recycling Center includes five state-of-the-art MSS CIRRUS® optical sorters that make material separation decisions in milliseconds, maximizing the recovery of all containers, including PET, HDPE, and aseptic containers/cartons. The first CIRRUS® optical sorter negatively separates any remaining fiber materials or particles. The remaining optical sorters recover plastics.


A key feature of the system is the new CP Glass Cleanup Trommel, the first installed in the industry.


“The testing has been fantastic,” Schneider says. “We believe we will be able to recover somewhere in the 90 to 95 percent range at the back end. It’s the cleanest we’ve ever gotten glass.”


The Most Intelligent Recycling Center in North America


Republic Services has called this “the largest and smartest recycling center in North America.” The system features highly automated data acquisition and system control solutions provided by Advanced MRF, the electrical and controls division of CP Group, and a Siemens Solution Partner. Key features include 5 touch-screen Human Machine Interface (HMI) control panels, as well as 2 wireless control panels, Supervisory Control, Data Acquisition monitoring, and remote access to continually monitor operations for optimal performance. The Office Interface SystemTM (OIS) allows users to monitor MRF production real-time from any smart device using a secured network.


The operators are able to reset screens, adjust sorters and change the speeds of motors, all from a wireless tablet. There are also sets of pre-programmed equipment settings, or “recipies,” that can be selected based on the material being processed.


“It’s convenient for the supervisor to have this information in front of them,” says Christopher. “Previously, you had to do things like send employees with walkie-talkies on each side of a screen to adjust them. Now we will be able to adjust those needs through a hand-held device from anywhere in the facility.”


Prioritizing Safety


Safety was also a major consideration in the facility’s design. The system was designed to exceed American and international standards for safety, including OSHA and NFPA compliance.


Whether the system is running at full process or in a reduced capacity, all safety circuits throughout the facility remain active.


The system design allows easy access to maintenance areas. CP equipment includes safeguards built in to protect workers such as trap key systems, hydraulic platforms, and lanyard connections. All sorters are on the same platform level for safety and operator supervision.


A single emergency stop system provides 100% equipment control while maintaining maximum uptime. Intelligent controls know exactly when and where an e-stop is triggered, allowing quick identification and correction to resume production. The operators can see where the system was stopped on their HMI or tablet, pull up a live report and be able to reset the system.

Bay Counties Retrofits Sunnyvale, CA, Mixed Waste MRF

New Equipment Improves Recovery of Aluminum, PET, and Organics

CPScreen 2


Sunnyvale, CA—Bay Counties Waste Services (BCWS) of Sunnyvale, CA, retrofitted the Sunnyvale Materials Recovery and Transfer (SMaRT) Station’s MSW system. The MRF was originally installed in 2009 and the retrofit was completed in May, 2015. The retrofit and phased installation took 6 weeks and was completed by equipment manufacturer, CP Group, of San Diego, CA.

The system currently receives approximately 760 tons of MSW, 126 tons of green waste, and 82 tons of residential curbside material per day. BCWS’s retrofit objective was to increase recovery of containers.

“The retrofitted system has increased our recovery rates dramatically for all of our commodities while maintaining our material quality,” says Jeff Nabhan, Facilities Manager for BCWS at the SMaRT Station®.

The results of the retrofit consist of a 65% increase in recovery of organics, 98.8% recovery of previously missed aluminum cans, and 97.9% recovery of previously missed PET.

Pictured, from left: Jeff Nabhan, BCWS SMaRT Station facilities manager, and Jerry Nabhan, his father.

“Major retrofits are often more complex than new projects, clients place a lot of trust in us to get their system running with as little downtime possible,” says Omneya Salem, Senior Manager of Project Management and Engineering, CP Group. “Considering material recovery goals are critical to a client’s economic pro-forma projections, Bay Counties placed a lot of trust in CP’s approach. I’m happy to be part of the team that met and exceeded those initial client expectations,” Salem continues.

The system retrofit consisted of the installation of 2 new CPScreens on the MSW line for the separation of 2D paper, films, and residue from 3D containers and bulky waste. A new MSS CIRRUS optical sorter was installed on the container line for the identification and recovery of PET, HDPE, and other 3 -7 material. The operations interface was improved, and the new CPScreens integrated with the existing MSW line. All new controls were implemented on the container line by CP Group’s electrical division, Advanced MRF.

“I don’t think we could have partnered with a better company to complete our retrofit,” says Nabhan. “From the initial planning, to the final testing, CP offered a complete solution to every issue we had. They came up with new ideas that we hadn’t thought of to improve our system. Hopefully we will get the chance to work with CP in the future with more expansions.”

About Bay Counties Waste Services

BCWS is a fourth generation family owned business. BCWS collects Sunnyvale’s residential and commercial garbage, recyclables, green waste, and organics  under an exclusive collection franchise agreement with the City of Sunnyvale Under a separate contract with the City, the company operates the City-owned SMaRT Station, where it processes residential and commercial garbage, recyclables, green waste, and organics from the cities of Mountain View, Palo Alto, and Sunnyvale, CA. The SMaRT Station receives from the three cities the garbage, source-separated recyclables and yard trimmings collected from approximately 63,000 residential addresses, 49,000 multi-family addresses, and 5,500 commercial addresses, totaling an estimated 280,000 people. All collection vehicles in Sunnyvale run on Compressed Natural Gas. Currently the owners of BCWS operate 4 MRFs and are involved in the collection of material from 13 cities, including the SFO airport and Levi’s Stadium.

About CP Group

The CP Group of Companies is a team of professionals that provide solutions for the waste, recycling, and renewable energy industries. CP Group engineers, manufactures, installs, and services Material Recovery Facilities worldwide for a variety of sectors. Custom turn-key systems for residential recycling, commercial and industrial, municipal solid waste, engineered fuel, construction and demolition, and electronic waste processing are designed, installed and serviced by the Group. CP Group engineers and manufactures conveyors, disc screens, air separation machines, trommels, optical sorters, magnets, and intelligent motor control and data acquisition systems. CP Group, headquartered in San Diego, CA, is comprised of CP Manufacturing, Krause Manufacturing, MSS, and Advanced MRF.

IERC 2015 Conference Presentation

Felix Hottenstein, Sales Director for MSS, a division of the CP Group, gives a presentation on optical sorters at the IERC (International Electronics Recycling Congress) show in Salzburg Austria. Watch and learn how optical sorters sort e-waste for recycling.