Reciclar S.A. processes up to 600 million plastic bottles per year with TOMRA sorting systems

Tomra and Reciclar S.A. collaborate to advance a circular economy for plastics in Latin America. The Argentinian plant, with a surface area of more than 22 000 m2, features the latest generation of Tomra Recycling Sorting equipment. The combination of Autosort and Autosort Flake allows the recycler to sort and recover more than 30 000 t/a of PET containers by color and material type and create crystal, green, or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different size and colors.

Reciclar sorts and recovers more than 30 000 t/a of PET containers by color and material type to produce crystal, green, or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different size and colors
© TOMRA

Reciclar sorts and recovers more than 30 000 t/a of PET containers by color and material type to produce crystal, green, or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different size and colors
© TOMRA
Moreover, Reciclar is the first recycler in Argentina to produce food-grade PET recyclates from post-consumer PET bottles. Based on the purity levels achieved in the sorting process, the recovered materials can be further processed into high-quality PET and HDPE recyclates. The recyclates come with the required qualities for the production of new packaging and bottles with increased recycled content, therefore supporting environmentally friendly resource management and plastic packaging production in Argentina.

Plastic recycling is undoubtedly a challenge of a global scale and South America is no exception. With the aim to support advancing material circularity in Argentina, Tomra Recycling Sorting and Reciclar, S.A., two important companies in the recycling sector, are joining forces to extend the life cycle of plastics through commitment, innovation, and dedication.

Pursuing this mission, Reciclar recently installed additional Tomra equipment in order to maximize material recovery in Argentina, where the total volume of plastic recycled in 2021 amounted to 307 000 t of plastics as stated by Ecoplas. This corresponds to an increase of 11 % compared to 2020.

Reciclar uses the latest generation of sorting machines from TOMRA Recycling Sorting
© TOMRA

Reciclar uses the latest generation of sorting machines from TOMRA Recycling Sorting
© TOMRA
For 28 years, the plant, founded by Marcelino Casella, collects, sorts and recycles waste. Only recently, Reciclar added 2 new Autosort Flake units to its operation to produce crystal, green or light blue PET flakes and HDPE flakes of different s and colors. Using Tomra Recycling Sorting's advanced PET bottle and PET packaging sorting equipment and technology, the Argentinean company has reached a processing capacity of 600 million plastic bottles and a production of 18 000 t of plastic pallets per year, becoming the leading company in Argentina in PET waste processing.

 

Using Tomra Recycling Sorting's advanced PET bottle and PET packaging sorting equipment and technology, Reciclar has reached a processing capacity of 600 million plastic bottles and a production of 18 000 t of plastic pallets per year
© TOMRA

Using Tomra Recycling Sorting's advanced PET bottle and PET packaging sorting equipment and technology, Reciclar has reached a processing capacity of 600 million plastic bottles and a production of 18 000 t of plastic pallets per year
© TOMRA
Recovering post-consumer PET and HDPE bottles

Reciclar's main focus is the recovery of post-consumer material. About 95% of its operations is dedicated to the recycling of PET and HDPE recovered from waste originating from different parts of the country. Its advanced sorting and recycling processes allow Reciclar S.A. to produce secondary raw materials with virgin-like qualities. This, in turn, allows the company to satisfy the needs of its most demanding customers both locally and internationally, including the United States, China, Europe and other Latin American countries.

Five years ago, Reciclar levelled up its business by updating its existing line with the next-generation equipment from Tomra to expand its offering. Since then, the plant additionally sort caps, safety rings and labels made of different materials.

 

Sophisticated sorting technology

By using the latest sorting technology, Reciclar diverts about 2500 t of recyclables from landfills or nature every month. The benefits are twofold: on the one hand, fewer materials are lost. On the other hand, more materials are available for further processing and recycling. Reciclar profits from 3 Autosort sorting systems from Tomra. These advanced sorting systems carry out accurate and advanced detection and separation of plastic bottles in the pre-sorting stage. Further down the sorting line, 3 Autosort Flake conduct a final purification step and sorts plastic flakes by both color and material. Combining both high-performing sorting systems enables the recycler to reach high purity levels in the individual fractions created.

The plant additionally sorts caps, safety rings and labels made of different materials
© TOMRA

The plant additionally sorts caps, safety rings and labels made of different materials
© TOMRA
“Tomra's machinery brings a wealth of advantages: Autosort combines advanced features and technologies in a single machine. With its compact and flexible construction, Autosort allows for smooth integration into existing and new plants. Autosort is equipped with Tomra Recycling Sorting's patented Flying Beam technology that ensures excellent homogeneous light distribution across the entire belt and improved detection. Consequently, throughput and operational efficiency are considerably higher and enable our partner to sort PET bottles with a high level of accuracy.” Added Julio Barrientos, Tomra Recycling Sorting’s Sales Manager in Mexico.

Apart from Autosort, Reciclar relies on Autosort Flake, one of Tomra's flake sorting machines. It is the ideal solution for high-end applications where the number of contaminants is low, but the quality requirements are extremely high such as in bottle-to-bottle recycling applications. It offers a unique technological combination, consisting of the high-resolution Flying Beam sensor, a full-color camera and a highly sensitive metal sensor, which allows flake sorting by both color and material.

“All our activities entail social, economic and ecological benefits. With the most advanced processes, we convert waste into recycled raw material and produce highly demanded packaging products, 60 % of which correspond to straps that are exported to diverse parts of the continent. Looking ahead, we are motivated to further consolidate our business model”, Nicolas Pell Richards, Reciclar S.A. Director.

 

After the pre-sorting stage, 3 Autosort Flake conduct a final purification step and sort plastic flakes by both color and material
© TOMRA

After the pre-sorting stage, 3 Autosort Flake conduct a final purification step and sort plastic flakes by both color and material
© TOMRA
Food-grade qualities

In Argentina, Reciclar is the only company capable of producing food-grade recycled pellets, an achievement empowered by Tomra’s sophisticated sorting units that allow for the recovery of high-quality recyclables. "We aim to continuously expand both our activities and product quality. The relationship with Tomra has helped us to fulfill our customer’s requirements as well as those of the national and international markets. We increased our processing capacity with the latest technological solutions. We have established that the combination of all these factors is key when we aim to overcome the current ecological challenges," says Nicolas Pell Richards, Reciclar S.A. Director.

To date, the Argentinean packaging industry uses very little recycled material to manufacture new packaging. The food and beverage segment only uses recyclable post-consumer material (PCR) in some PET packaging, which represents 10 % of total resin consumption, according to figures from the Circulo de Politicas Ambientales report. These figures give room for improvement but, fortunately, waste management infrastructures and smart solutions exist to maximize material circularity and divert recyclables from landfill or incineration. Sorting technologies are crucial in this process and should go hand in hand with collection and recycling processes. According to the Círculo de Políticas Ambientales, the management of post-consumer packaging waste is crucial as it represents approximately 30% of urban solid waste in Argentina and is a great source for recovering recyclable materials.

  Reciclar reaches high purity levels with state-of-the-art sorting technology from TOMRA
© TOMRA

Reciclar reaches high purity levels with state-of-the-art sorting technology from TOMRA
© TOMRA

Combined forces to address a major challenge in Latin America

According to World Bank statistics, Latin America produces more than 430 000 t of waste per day. In other words, each Latin American produces an average of between one and 14 kg of waste per day. On the other hand, according to GAIA Alliance, the USA Trade Online database of free international trade in the United States reported that between January and August 2020, 44 173 t of plastic waste arrived from the United States to 15 Latin American countries, which meant the shipment of approximately 35 containers per day to the region.

Reciclar S.A. is the leading PET recycling company in Argentina. In collaboration with Tomra the company consolidated its activities in the recycling of plastic containers and packaging for the production of PET, PP, and HDPE flakes, pellets and strips. As a result of these achievements, Reciclar has become the only company in the country with ISO 9001:2015 certification for the production and commercialization processes of recycled PET flakes and pellets since 2009. Tomra and Reciclar are both committed to supporting the creation of a more sustainable environment and a circular economy for PET in Argentina

www.tomra.com

www.reciclarsa.com.ar

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