The demand from plastics recyclers for a “one stop shop” lies behind the partnership between sorting technology groups Buhler Sortex and National Recovery Technologies (NRT). The two groups announced in October 2015 they had signed a strategic commercial agreement giving recyclers a combined technology offering for plastic bottle and flake sorting technologies.
“Something that the market has been asking for is bottle sorting and flake sorting from one source,” said Matthias Erdmannsdoerfer, president of US-based NRT.
He told Plastics News Europe that, up to now, recyclers either have had to go to separate suppliers for the different equipment, or “make compromises” if they want to use just one supplier.
The combined approach provides benefits in quality assurance, he said. There is a difficulty for recyclers if they have to deal with two sources when trying to solve a problem.
By joining forces, NRT and Switzerland-based Buhler Sortex aim to give recyclers what they want – one port of call for both bottle and flake sorting. “There is no comparable solution in the market today,” said Erdmannsdoerfer.
Bernhard Gabauer, Buhler's segment development manager for plastics, said his company's customers value the high quality of its technology. Its Sortex technology for recycled plastic (PET and HDPE) flake has a very high performance for rejecting contaminants, unwanted colours and so on.
NRT brings to the partnership its In-Flight Sorting and PET Boost technologies for used bottles. In-Flight Sorting enables either transmissive sorting, which is suited to the PET stream, or reflective sorting, which accurately detects and ejects opaque polymers such as HDPE and PVC.
The European plastics recycling market offers good potential for the partners. Gabauer noted continuing growth in demand for food-contact rPET in Europe. The biggest markets are in Germany, UK, Spain, Italy and France, he said, adding that Poland is also a growth market.
The two companies have a combined 80 sales and support offices globally, in addition to Buhler's three manufacturing plants and NRT's single production facility.
Customers have shown a positive response to the partnership, said Gabauer and Erdmannsdoerfer. They hinted at further developments in their commercial relationship to be announced later in 2016.
“There is still more potential in this partnership,” said Erdmannsdoerfer.