The world’s biggest plant for sorting plastic packaging has been inaugurated in Motala, Sweden. The facility, Site Zero, doubles plastic recycling compared to the previous plant. Up to 95 per cent of all packaging received will be able to be sent for recycling in the near future.

The key to successful plastic recycling is retaining the value of the material, which requires efficient sorting and recycling of each individual plastic type. This is where Site Zero is pioneering: the plant can sort out as many as twelve types of plastic, which corresponds to almost all types of plastic on the Swedish packaging market, compared to three or four at comparable plants in Europe.

Site Zero has now been tested for a period prior to opening, and the results show record figures for sorting efficiency. As much as 95 per cent of the packaging arriving at the plant can be sorted out for recycling in the next step.

– With Site Zero, we have set a new path for plastic recycling and the rest of Europe. The world needs to follow, this to reduce emissions from incineration and the need for primary raw material. It is no longer justifiable to incinerate as much plastic as we do or melt it down into low-quality products that cannot be recycled again, says Mattias Philipsson, CEO of Svensk plaståtervinning.

Site Zero will be the world’s biggest sorting plant and can process 200,000 tons of plastic packaging. This is approximately equivalent to the total volume placed on the Swedish market. About half of this plastic packaging is collected by the Swedes, and until more plastic reaches the recycling system, Svensk Plaståtervinning has offered capacity to other countries. From 2024, Site Zero will receive most of Finland’s household plastics.

Site Zero in numbers

Size: 60,000m2 (previous plant: 15,000 sqm)
Sorting capacity: 12 types of plastic (comparable plants 3-4 types): rigid PP, rigid HDPE, flexible LDPE, flexible PP, transparent PET trays, transparent PET bottles, coloured PET bottles, EPS, PS, PVC, two grades of mixed polyolefin laminates, and metal and non-plastic rejects
Sorting efficiency: Up to 95 per cent of the received plastics can be sorted out and recycled in the next step
Sorting sensors: 60 NIR sensors (comparable plants have an average of 5 NIR sensors, previous plant 19 sensors)
Advanced control system: fully automated process, real-time optimization, artificial intelligence. The different parts of the plant influence and talk to each other, optimizing the sorting process
Reception capacity: 200,000 tons per year of mixed plastic packaging from households (previous plant 100,000 tons per year)
Sorting speed: 1000 packages per second, 42 tons per hour

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