CarbonLITE selects Bulk Handling Systems AI-integrated recycling equipment for new plant

When its recycling plant in Lehigh Valley, PA,is fully operational in 2020, CarbonLITE will be able to recycle more than six billion plastic bottles per year across the company.

Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), headquartered in Eugene, OR, has been selected to supply the front-end recycling system for recycler CarbonLITE’s newest post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) plant in Lehigh Valley, PA. BHS also provided the front-end recycling system for CarbonLITE’s facility in Dallas, TX, which began production in the fourth quarter of 2017. CarbonLITE is one of the world’s largest producers of bottle-grade rPET.

The Lehigh Valley–area plant will produce 80 million pounds of rPET pellets per year. Installation is scheduled to conclude in the fourth quarter of this year and the plant will be fully operational in 2020. The advanced plastics recycling system will be one of the largest in the world and will allow CarbonLITE to recycle more than six billion plastic bottles per year across the company.

The system is designed to process 14 tons per hour and operate four shifts without manual sort labor. BHS has equipped the system with its latest technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) driven robotic sorters. Max-AI technology from BHS employs neural network-based AI to identify recyclables and direct sorting decisions by robotic and optical sorters.

The system’s NRT SpydIR with Max-AI units employ In-Flight Sorting technology to precisely identify PET plastic by polymer type, while Max-AI technology identifies non-target PET. The Max-AI integration also allows for object recognition, black plastic identification and material composition analysis. The optical sensing and AI technologies work in collaboration, allowing the ability to suppress separation of clamshells and thermoform trays and target only PET bottles.

The system also gathers material composition data and performance metrics from its AI and optical equipment, scales, motors, bunkers, balers and other sources, all of which is communicated to the customer with BHS’ new Total Intelligence Platform (TIP). This high level of intelligence provides operators with unprecedented control and delivers both real-time and trending performance information.

“BHS has been a values partner throughout the years and consistently has new ideas to help our plants improve and operate successfully,” said CarbonLITE’s Chairman Leon Farahnik. “The BHS system, along with NRT and Max, offers unprecedented intelligence and performance that aligns with our vision. Through state-of-the-art facilities, technologies and equipment, CarbonLITE is fully invested in and committed to helping preserve our precious resources, reduce the PET industry’s carbon footprint, diminish our landfill problem and protect our waterways.”

BHS noted that it is a global leader in the innovative design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of sorting systems and components for the solid waste, recycling, waste-to-energy, and construction and demolition industries. Wholly-owned subsidiaries include Nihot (Amsterdam), NRT (Nashville, TN) and Zero Waste Energy (Lafayette, CA). BHS is also home of Max-AI technology, a breakthrough artificial intelligence that identifies materials, makes intelligent decisions and directs equipment such as robotic sorters.

CarbonLITE is one of the largest producers of food-grade post-consumer recycled PET in the world, the company says, and specializes in processing used plastic bottles into bottle-grade PET resin flakes and pellets that can then be used to manufacture new plastic beverage bottles and other products. CarbonLITE’s plants in Riverside, CA, and Dallas TX, supply some of the world’s major beverage brands. It currently processes around four billion used bottles annually (200 million pounds) to create a 120,000-ton-per-year carbon footprint reduction.

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