Shortly before Christmas last year, Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG placed an order with REDWAVE for the design and construction of the expansion and refurbishment of the plastic packaging sorting plant in Graz Puntigam.

Around two million euros were invested in the plant expansion, and over the last few years, a total of over ten million euros has been invested in Graz by Saubermacher.

On 21 June 2018, the ceremonial opening of the sorting plant took place in the presence of Mayor Siegfried Nagl. It included a blessing from the parish priest, Christian Leibnitz. This expansion will make the Graz plant the largest plastic sorting plant in Austria. Saubermacher sorts the material on behalf of Altstoff Recycling Austria (ARA). Most of the packaging waste comes from households and businesses. As always, substances such as glass, paper or residual waste end up in the yellow collection bags. In Styria, missorted material accounts for around 23%. In this plant, the REDWAVE sorting machines, which rely on sensor-based sorting using near-infrared and colour detection technology, separate the plastic packaging by grade. This is essential for its use in the manufacture of new products.

“Banning plastic does not help. We must continue to improve recycling and accelerate the use of recycled materials in production processes,” says Hans Roth, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Saubermacher.

Changes in the contents of the yellow bag made the investment in the sorting system necessary. A new bag ripper to open the yellow bags works in conjunction with a new film separator to ensure significantly improved separation of the film fraction from the three-dimensional fraction. In addition, one of the existing REDWAVE sensor-based sorting machines has been fitted with upgraded technology. This sorter has been installed at the end of the sorting line to separate the Tetra Pak® material from the aluminium fraction.

An additional, latest generation REDWAVE near infrared sorting machine is now located in the vacated space, and separates PET from other plastics. The sorting results are further improved by using a ‘bottle flattener’ that is situated near to the two and three-dimensional separators. This is an in-house development from REDWAVE. Currently there are no comparable devices on the market that would be able to achieve the capacity required by the customer.

The flattened and partially emptied PET bottles processed by the bottle flattener ensure even better sorting results and a corresponding higher sorting quality.

Aluminium cans and beverage cartons are also now being separated, in addition to 14 different plastic fractions. The automatic plastic sorting plant in Styria, Austria, processes around 32,000 tonnes of packaging waste per year, mainly from Graz and its surroundings. In addition, about 40 percent of the material is used as a substitute fuel in the cement industry.

“This investment means we can increase the proportion of material recycling to 40% and thus come one step closer to our vision of Zero Waste,” explained Gerhard Ziehenberger, COO of Saubermacher AG.

As Silvia Schweiger-Fuchs, managing director at REDWAVE, commented: “Zero Waste is a critical target to aim for in maintaining an environment that is worth living in, both for our children and the future. Our environment is a treasure, which we have done a good job of preserving, at an international level, in recent decades. We will continue to strive to extend our leading technological position in recycling technology.”