Color Sorting

The ability to sort plastics by color has been an important component of HDPE and PET bottle sorting technology in order to produce final recyclates of highest value [56-58]. Many bottle sorting lines offer the capability to separate bottles by color as well as by type of resin. In bottle recycling operations, high throughput flake/particle color sorters have also been used to accomplish a final polishing step, for example, the removal of traces of colored HDPE flake from a primary stream of natural HDPE resin [112].

Recently the application of particle color sorting to the value-added recycling of plastics from end-of-life durables has been explored [112]. Figure 14.23 shows a picture of a commercial particle color sorter at a plastics recycler. Figure 14.24 is a schematic of the color sorting operation. Air nozzles are used to remove optically identified particles of one color from multiple falling streams of mixed color resins. It is anticipated that color sorters of various types will become an integral part of plastics recycling operations targeting highest value recyclates for high value end-use markets.

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