With the heightened a focus on increasing the amount of plastic that can be recovered through recycling for reuse, hyperspectral imaging cameras are providing a solution for accurate sorting.

HySpex hyperspectral imaging cameras, supplied locally by Raymax Applications, and which were developed in Norway by NEO initially for military use, can now be applied to non-contact, real-time scanning and sorting of complex plastic waste, differentiating closely packed spatial features and pixel-size objects.

According to Raymax, data captured from scanning samples is analysed with the aid of sophisticated software, building a classification system that is then easily implemented with every mixed load of plastic waste requiring sorting. 

Across Europe, hyperspectral cameras are being mounted above a moving conveyor belt to capture both the spatial and spectral image of each item, as all plastic types have unique spectral properties due to their chemical structure. These properties cannot be identified by an RGB camera or the human eye. 

Commonly used plastics such as PET, HPDE, LDPE, LLPDE and PVC all have unique properties that can be captured by a hyperspectral camera. 

Due to plastic’s flexible usage, not all discarded plastic is the same as different chemical structures have been used to make different consumer products. This in turn can pose difficulties for efficient recycling. 

Currently, Australian recycling plants are limited in terms of which plastics can be processed, so the adoption of innovative technology, such as HySpex cameras, for optical sorting can offer real advantages, especially for mechanical recycling.

Sorting different types of plastic can also be an advantage to advanced or chemical recycling, which aims to produce bio-oils that can be turned back into plastic.

According to Raymax, HySpex cameras offer a solution that improves sorting of plastic types, making the recycling process more effective overall.

Captured false-colour image of five different types of plastic waste: PET Bottle, PET sheet, PET G, PVC and PC.
Captured false-colour image of five different types of plastic waste: PET Bottle, PET sheet, PET G, PVC and PC.

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