In recent years, we have more and more plastic products, and a very small percentage of plastic is recycled. One of the reasons is that plastic consists of many materials with different physical and chemical properties and additives, which makes it problematic for recycling. But that could change, thanks to scientists in Denmark.

Researchers from the Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering at Aarhus University in Denmark have developed a camera that can detect differences in 12 types of plastic.

These 12 types, including PE, PP, PET, PS, PVC, PVDF, POM, PEEK, ABS, PMMA, PC and PA12 are found in common plastic products. Thanks to the camera, the plastic will be able to be separated based on its chemical composition, which will enable better recycling. The technology has been tested in a pilot phase and implementation is expected to begin in the spring of this year.

– With this technology, we can see the differences between different types of plastic. We can even see the differences between plastics that consist of the same chemical elements, but differently structured. We use a high-spectrum infrared camera and machine learning to analyze and categorize the type of plastic directly on the tape. This discovery will have a huge impact on the separation of plastics – says Professor Mogens Hinge.

Plastics are now separated by methods that allow the separation of certain fractions, such as PE, PP, PET, but not with the same accuracy offered by the new technology, and therefore not with chemical purity, which is crucial to increase the recycling rate of plastics.

E2 portal (Circular economy)

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