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Tomra focuses on sorting and recycling wood


Tomra Recycling says it has taken significant steps to strengthen its position in the wood recycling segment by forming a dedicated team to offer sensor-based sorting solutions “to drive the development of wood waste recycling through guidance in technology and process improvement”.

The German business unit of Norway-based Tomra Group says it will continue to build on its “well-established partnerships with wood-based panel manufacturers” as it focuses on the effort.

Following on from her launch of a new deep learning-based sorting app capable of separating wood by type, Tomra says the team she will be building includes “a newly appointed segment manager, knowledgeable experts industry, wood waste application specialists and key service account managers.”

According to Tomra, “The wood-based panel industry aims to meet very strong market demand and improve product quality by increasing recycled content, which results in a double benefit for the manufacturer. Recycled wood is up to 40% cheaper than fresh and generally drier wood, resulting in a significant decrease in energy consumption during the drying stage of panel production.

Comments Jose Matas, Head of Wood Segment at Tomra Recycling: “The current market development offers a huge opportunity for manufacturers of wood-based panels. Using high quality recycled materials enables them to produce superior quality wood-based panels, achieve higher yields and returns while benefiting from considerable cost reductions, conserving natural resources and reducing CO2 emissions.

Currently, the lack of infrastructure is hampering the development of the sector, explains Tomra. Overall, the European Union and the United States “leave around 100 million tonnes of wood waste unrecycled,” says Tomra, citing the Luxembourg-based European Investment Bank as the source.

This figure, says Tomra, indicates “untapped opportunities that can be exploited when implementing holistic resource systems to effectively collect, sort and recycle wood waste.”

The technology provider continues, “Particleboard manufacturers’ quest to increase recycled content and promote sustainable wood management requires optimized processes and advanced technologies to recover pure material fractions from a stream of supply of wood waste. Thus, recyclers and particleboard manufacturers are urged to invest in the respective sorting technology to keep pace with industry demands and evolve with the market.

Integrating a wood sorting system into recycling facilities or medium-density fibreboard (MDF) production plants “allows them to separate untreated and treated wood from the mixed waste stream complex and to use the purest materials to produce high quality particleboard on an industrial site. scale,” according to Tomra.

According to Tomra, two sorting systems – one a high-throughput unit to remove inert materials and metals and the other an optical sorter with built-in deep learning technology to separate wood waste into different grades of materials – are a potential solution.

Tomra says its X-Tract device can help recyclers and chipboard manufacturers remove impurities such as inert materials, metals and glass using X-ray transmission (XRT) technology and “provide exceptional levels of purity for secondary raw materials”. Its AutoSort GAIN, meanwhile, “is trained to detect, analyze and separate unprocessed and processed wood.”

Only wood chip products with the highest quality (Type A) scrap wood can replace virgin materials in the production of wood-based panels, the company explains. Tomra says its application engineers and software developers have collaborated to develop a new application based on deep learning to sort wood chips by type to serve this market.

“Tomra is strongly committed to circular waste management, [and] I am delighted that we are focusing on the wood segment with a dedicated team that brings a wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge,” said Fabrizio Radice, Vice President and Head of Global Sales and Marketing at Tomra Recycling.

“The team’s expertise combined with our latest technologies will help recyclers and particleboard manufacturers meet market demands and unlock the full potential of their operations while minimizing environmental impacts,” adds Radice. “In the years to come, we will invest heavily in this promising segment and aim for one company’s waste to become a valuable resource for another – a scenario we support to become commonplace.”